12 Feb 2004

Rising concerns about the dangers posed by corroding ships sunk during WW2

7:09 pm on 12 February 2004

The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme or SPREP says it's concerned about the number of World War Two shipwrecks, which are slowly corroding on the seabed around Micronesia and Melanesia.

The United States Navy has just finished pumping two million gallons of oil from a leaking wreck in Ulithi Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia.

It had been threatening the fish stocks of the local community.

That wreck has now been made safe but according to Sefa Nawadra from SPREP, there are still 857 wrecks in the region which could follow suit.

At the moment there are no international laws governing the ownership of sunken warships and Mr Nawadra says people are not taking the problem seriously enough.

"it's an issue that has been around for quite awhile, and I don't think anyone took it seriously, including us, until there was an incident, it is one of those issues that is always spoken of in contingency planning,......everyone becomes interested after something happens and then it is hard to maintain it when nothing happens - it's a bit of complacency"

Sefa Nawadra from SPREP