13 Mar 2007

Rough seas thwart effors to remove fuel or refloat trawler boat stuck on Niue reef

8:06 pm on 13 March 2007

Rough sea conditions stalled efforts to refloat a fishing trawler which has been stuck on rocks on a remote part of Niue since early on Saturday morning.

The vessel, Jay Belinda, which is operated by the island's fish processor, Reef Fishing, is laden with fish and carrying several thousand tonnes of fuel.

The island's police commander, Senior Sergeant Ross Ardern, says they initially tried to remove the fuel from the boat by dragging it in drums over the reef and up the cliff, but rough seas made this impossible.

Attempts to use the two other trawlers currently in Niue to tow the Jay Belinda off the reef were also cut short by the sea conditions.

"We got the towlines ready but then felt that the conditions were too rough to be able carry on with that plan. We have got a very very short time to work in. The tide here in Niue on that part of the island only gives us about three hours space alongside the craft, and after that we have to go back up to high land."

Senior Sergeant Ardern says they expect more favourable weather tomorrow.