31 Jan 2014

FSM officials working hard to remove stranded fishing vessel

7:50 am on 31 January 2014

Officials from the Federated States of Micronesia are working to move a fishing vessel stranded on a reef off the capital of Pohnpei, after the government declared it a substantial environment and health risk.

The Kiribati-flagged Chinese vessel, Ping Da 7, became stuck on the reef on December the eleventh, carrying substantial amounts of dangerous fuels, gas and chemicals.

A member of the task force set up to remove the vessel, Francis Itimai, says while it was able to pump and contain an oil leak last week, the vessel is a ticking time bomb for another spill.

He says it has made a call for assistance to tug boat operators in the region, as their tug boats are too small and high tides are drawing the vessel further onto the reef.

"Our command centre is reaching out to any potential tug operators that can come in and help us remove, the first priority is the fuel, and also possibly the wreck off the reef."

Francis Itimai says the wreck, by law, is the responsibility of the vessel's owner - but when the Hong Kong based owner was contacted, he said he did not have the funds to remove it.