Maritime authority detains ship for spilling oil at Graciosa Bay
BY BEN BILUA
MARITIME authorities have detained a foreign log-ship which had spilled oil in Graciosa Bay waters, Temotu province.
The vessel was at the Bay to pick up logs when the incident occurred.
Solomon Islands Maritime Authority confirmed this on Monday 8th February.
From assessments, it is likely that the ship’s captain will get a taste of the Solomon Islands Maritime Amendment Act 2018.
Director of Solomon Islands Maritime Authority Thierry Nervale said the vessel has been detained by SIMA, adding that follow-up inspection also revealed deficiencies to applicable laws that made the vessel unsafe.
He told Island Sun the master of the ship has been notified about the country’s existing maritime laws.
“Of course, the Master has been notified, he committed offenses under applicable laws of Solomon Islands namely the Shipping Act 1998 as amended.
“He will be charged for these offences before the High Court,” Nervale said.
“We are still in the middle of the operation in Lata with a team led by the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority (SIMA) with specialists of the environment and disaster management.
“And this pollution incident is classified at Tier-2 (out of three levels) as per the NATPLAN,” he added.
Nervale explained that MV QUEBEC is a foreign vessel, which entered the country on a voyage to load logs at Graciosa Bay, near provincial capital Lata.
He said the vessel spilled out black oil while in the bay which alarmed communities who later alerted the police.
“I cannot give you detailed information yet on the extend of the pollution and the damage to the environment as it is early stage of our assessment and would be misleading.
“What I can confirm is that it is serious enough and spread on the coast that require cleaning operations but should remain within our capacity in-country.
“The crew is working on rectifying the deficiencies under SIMA’s control and in collaboration with the vessel’s Flag State,” Nervale said.
He said the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NATPLAN) was activated following the report and a mission has been mounted led by SIMA with coordination support from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).
Nervale said the mission is to inspect or investigate on board the vessel so as the impact assessment on the ground.
Part (a) of the Solomon Islands Maritime Amendment Act 2018 general principles adopted the polluter pays principle – a clear provision stating that a person or entity who breach the law must pay for the damages.