Our environment, our responsibility

Oil spill at Walu Bay in Suva. Picture: Alexander Campbell

The revelation that owners of a foreign fishing vessel have been fined $20,000 for breaching the Sea Ports Management Regulations 2008 will no doubt attract attention.The vessel was caught pumping out oil into the sea. This was confirmed by the Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd on Monday.
Responding to queries, FPCL confirmed in a statement that the incident took place at Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries Ltd’s dock and repair berth on Saturday.
The clearance for the vessel to leave the harbour, it said, would be granted once the fine was paid.
FPCL has reminded members of the public and “all port users that it does not and will not condone any form of pollution within the waters of the port”.
An investigation and assessment revealed that those in charge of the vessel had no knowledge of the offence and that it was a specific crew member’s negligence, it said.
Members of the public have been urged to join the fight against sea pollution by reporting any form of contamination in the harbour.
University of the South Pacific dean for the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment associate Professor Anjeela Jokhan confirmed that any oil spill or chemical that went into the ocean would not only affect the marine ecosystem, but the microscopic ones which were critical in maintaining the health of the ocean.
This affects the environment, she said. It makes the environment unhealthy, she said, and there are more deaths of marine organisms.
Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) chief executive officer John Tunidau said MSAF was always concerned about oil spills within Fiji waters because their core role was to protect the marine environment from such events.
The confirmation of a fine will no doubt be welcomed.
The onus though is on those in authority to police this issue and be vigilant against vessel owners who may want to test our systems.
Such discharge into our waters must never be condoned and we should welcome the proactive stance taken by the authorities to hold those in breach to account.
However, the protection of our environment is our business as well.
We must proactively engage in keeping our environment clean, and not pollute the sea around us.
We must report all those who turn their heads and ignore this.
This is a responsibility we must take ownership of. There is no other way.
Together we should pledge to protect our environment.



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