6 Sep 2013

Fuel dumping threatens Marshalls fish-farming exports

5:30 pm on 6 September 2013

A fuel spill has washed over fish farming cages in the Marshall Islands capital, Majuro, causing some fish to die and forcing workers to quickly clean up.

The Rongelap Mayor, James Matayoshi, who is overseeing the fish-farming project that has underwater cages located to the west of Majuro's main commercial dock in Delap, says there was oil all over the water.

He says they don't know what vessel the fuel came from.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Authority says commercial fishing vessels using Majuro as a tuna transshipment point are putting the fish farm and reef fishing in danger.

Its General Manager, Lowell Alik, says these types of spills seem to be occurring with alarming frequency.

Mr Alik says he believes the vessels have become sophisticated in avoiding detection by dumping fuel mixed with engine oil and sewage into the lagoon at night or when it is raining

He says local fishermen depend on Majuro lagoon for fishing and local development projects like the fish farm will be hurt by fuel spills.

The fish farm, which is expanding, harvested its first batch of fish for export to Hawaii late last month.