Fiji Time: 12:04 PM on Thursday 22 March

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Derelict vessels pollute harbour, 'affect food source'

Shalveen Chand
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE villages of the yavusa Navakavu around Suva Harbour claim oil and chemical leakage from derelict vessels within their qoliqoli is destroying marine life.

The yavusa is made up of five villages - Namakala, Waiqanake, Nabaka, Muaivuso and Ucuinamono - that sit on the Lami side of the harbour.

Spokesman Taniela Vueta said the Korean ship, which caught fire was towed into their area but later put back into the harbour.

"We saw people, probably the ship owners, taking things out of the ship and dismantling things," he said.

Mr Vueta said there were five other ships close to the Bay of Islands near Novotel, and these have been leaking chemicals, including oil.

"What happens is that these chemicals and oil settle over the marine life, like the crabs, the mana, the kuka and other marine things that live around the mangroves," he said.

Mr Vueta claimed this was the reason why there had been a decline in those species.

He said the villages which form the yavusa rely on the sea for income.

"The five villages would have a population of close to 3000 and I can assure you that only 5 per cent of them work in Suva."

Suva Harbour Master Captain Joji Takape confirmed the Korean vessel that had caught fire last month was towed out of the harbour.

He said this was done to allow the shipowners to take whatever was salvageable after the fire.

He said the owners would be told to take the ship with them and not to leave it in the harbour.

Permanent secretary for Environment Samuela Namosimalua said they were aware of the issue surrounding the area and were working with the departments concerned.

However, he said the yavusa Navakavu had yet to lodge a complaint to the Department of Environment.

Fiji Ports Corporation Limited's manager port operations Eminoni Kurasiga stated that dealings with the ships are made through their agents and not directly with shipowners.

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