INTERNATIONAL Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) North and South Pacific correspondent Dr Hugh Govan believes the main threats posed by derelict vessels in the Suva Harbour are leaching of contaminants and hazards represented to shipping, including small craft.
Dr Govan, a marine scientist, as well as the adviser to the Locally Managed Marine Area Network (LMMA) in the country, said the leaching of contaminants affected living organisms.
He said the threats for both were "unacceptably high" within the confined area of the Suva Harbour.
"Any contaminants leaching from the vessels such as fuel, lubricants, anti-fouling or solid waste will be retained in the harbour area until they are eventually diluted or washed out to sea.
"In the meantime, they are adding to the already high burden posed by other pollutants and will affect water quality in nearby areas and food fish and shell-fish," Dr Govan said.
"Such contaminants like the heavy metals and hydrocarbons can affect the growth of marine organisms or even kill them, which in itself would reduce any benefit that wrecks could provide."