31 Oct 2011

More focus needed on shipping risks to Pacific says NGO

5:11 am on 31 October 2011

Pacific Island governments are being warned to place more focus on getting prepared for a shipping-related environmental catastrophe.

A major oil spill was averted in Papua New Guinea last week after an Australian warship towed a shipping container that had lost engine power away from a reef it was in danger of hitting.

The Marine Pollution Adviser for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Anthony Talouli, says with the prevalence of unchartered waters, shallow reefs and narrow passages, it's fortunate there haven't been more disasters.

"When you don't have incidents, the issue is then put on the backburner, it is considered a non-issue, it's considered a low priority, unless something happens. And so unfortunately our countries are more reactive as opposed to being proactive."

Anthony Talouli says Pacific Island countries need more equipment, stronger legislation and to train more people to deal with large-scale marine pollution.