12 Mar 2007

Removing fuel from grounded fishing trawler in Niue a difficult challenge - Niue police chief

6:00 pm on 12 March 2007

Niue's chief of police, Ross Ardern, says they have contingency plans to ensure there is not an environemntal disaster on the island's coast after a trawler ran aground on the weekend.

The 15 metre Jay Belinda, from the Niue fishing company, Reef Fishing, is stuck on the reef at remote Liha Point on the island's east coast.

Ross Ardern says they do not know yet know what caused the grounding but he says there will be an inquiry into the incident.

He says the six crew got off without mishap but the boat is still holding nine tonnes of fish and several thousand litres of fuel.

Mr Ardern says removing the fuel is the priority and it will be difficult.

"This is as difficult as you can imagine. One of the remotest spots on the island. It's well out on the reef and it is going to take a considerable of effort to get the fuel off the vessel."

Ross Ardern says it may involve manhandling the fuel over the reef and up the cliffs.