Pollution control underway on two wrecked Chinese fishing vessels in French Polynesia

Ping Tai Rong 49 (Photo: French High Commission in French Polynesia)

Local authorities in French Polynesia have begun implementing pollution control measures in response to two separate shipwrecks at the country’s Anuanurunga and Arutua atolls.

The pollution control effort, which is being executed with the assistance of the French Navy, began at the two sites in late August.

Around 2,600 litres of oil were recovered by the crew of the French Navy patrol vessel Bougainville at the uninhabited atoll of Anuanurunga, particularly at the site of the grounding of the Chinese longline fishing vessel Ping Tai Rong 49 (pictured). The vessel ran aground at the atoll on July 23 of this year and has remained there since.

Bougainville‘s crew have also recovered 10 cubic metres of rubbish floating in the water around the longliner.

Cleanup operations will likely continue at the site as the vessel had about 120,000 litres of fuel in its tanks when it ran aground.

Meanwhile, at Arutua, the French Navy tug Maroa has completed its assessment of the wreck of another Chinese longliner, Shen Gang Shun 1, after strong waves had caused it to drift more than 60 metres closer to shore just over a week prior.

Officials said an inspection of the hull showed no signs of pollution, and so there was no more need to deploy any oil cleanup equipment.

Shen Gang Shun 1 had ended up on a reef in Arutua in March last year and has since remained in the area. Local media said the vessel has been abandoned by its owners.

The French Polynesian Directorate of Maritime Affairs has initiated a tender inviting interested parties to bid for the dismantling of the vessel.

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