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Fiji Time: 2:23 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Harbour danger

Shalveen Chand
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ABOUT 50 ships are moored in Suva Harbour, some for more than three months, causing not only an eyesore but a congestion issue.

According to Fiji Ports Corporation Limited, part of the problem was caused by the 2009 tsunami that ravaged Pago Pago Harbour in American Samoa.

Acting harbour master Captain Joji Takape said half the vessels were foreign-owned and had come to use the slipways in Suva.

"They are here to use the dry docks for repairs. After the damage to Pago Pago Harbour, most of the foreign vessels have been coming here," said Capt Takape.

"We had seven depart last week after repairs were done. We are trying to move them out as fast as we can but the slipways and the dry docks are quite busy as well."

Capt Takape said other boats were local vessels or boats with local connections.

"Once they fly a Fiji flag, they have all the right to be in Fiji waters. We have been having talks with the owners of these ships and they have said they will be moving out," he said.

The local vessels fall under the jurisdiction of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.

MSAF boss Neil Slack said he would respond to queries today.

The fishing vessels can be seen moored a short distance from Tiko's Floating Restaurant, some moored in groups of up to six or seven.

According to FPCL, the issue could be resolved at a faster rate if the floating slipways were working.

Environmental agencies have also said the ships were detrimental to the environment and the ecosystem.

Another issue facing FPCL is that of derelict vessels and, according to Capt Takape, the matter was being handled by the corporation after changes were made to maritime laws.

Capt Takape said they conducted a survey of derelict vessels in Suva Harbour, the details of which would be released by the relevant authorities.

Trinidad and Tobago, an island nation in the Caribbean, also faces a similar situation.

Ten days ago, a law was passed to ensure derelict vessels and abandoned ships do not become a problem for the country.