Sea polluters must be punished - committee

2013-08-14 12:01

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Johannesburg – A parliamentary committee has urged harsher penalties for those polluting the sea.

This is necessary to protect fisheries resources along the coast, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries portfolio committee chairman Lulu Johnson said on Wednesday.

The call followed after oil started leaking from the cargo ship Kiani Satu, which ran aground off Buffels Bay near Knysna last week.

"We have observed several similar incidents around the shores of South Africa in which the vessels... are grounded or capsized with some not only leaving the government authorities with a burden to rescue them and cleaning their damage, but posing serious health risks for fishery living resources," he said in a statement.

Johnson said in most cases the polluters went unpunished.

Although damage had been done to the environment, it was under control because of the swift response by sea rescue authorities.

The ship could have posed a more serious hazard to marine life, Johnson said.

The 168m bulk carrier ran aground at dawn on Thursday off Buffels Bay, forcing the captain and its 19-member crew to abandon ship.

It had developed mechanical problems in heavy seas while carrying 330t of fuel oil and 15 000t of rice.

The SA Maritime Safety Authority said marine salvors were planning to remove oil from the leaking ship by air.

"[They are] drilling into tanks to take the oil out. It has not been heated for a week now, so we are going to try to put the oil into plastic tanks and fly it off the ship," Samsa spokesperson Captain Nigel Campbell said.

Read more on:    samsa  |  environment

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