Chinese company ordered to remove ship stricken in French Polynesia

5:48 pm on 1 May 2020

The administrative court in French Polynesia has given the owner of the Chinese fishing vessel grounded at Arutua atoll five days to start removing its cargo and fuel.

Shen Gang Shun 1 stuck on reef of Arutua

Shen Gang Shun 1 stuck on reef of Arutua Photo: supplied

The ship Shen Gang Shun 1, which is owned by Shenzhen Shengang Overseas Industrial Company, ran aground on 21 March with 250 tonnes of fuel and about 70 tonnes of fish on board.

The court ruled that if action by the company was delayed it would be fined $US5000 a day.

It also ordered Shenzhen Shengang to start removing the 50-metre long ship within 15 days or face another $US5000 fine per day.

The court decided if the company failed to act, the French Polynesian government would authorise the salvage operation and bill the company.

The ruling came three weeks after a complaint had been laid by the government and by an environmental organisation, which reported the vessel had sharks in its hold in what was a shark sanctuary.

When the ship hit the reef in March, the French rescue helicopter uplifted the crew who then left French Polynesia on board of other fishing vessels owned by Shenzhen Shengang.

This week the French Polynesian government sent a catamaran with 400 metres of spill containment barriers to Arutua to contain any possible fuel leak.

The government said the salvage operation would be difficult.

It said once the barrier was in place the salvage crew would have to remove the rotting fish, which would take about four weeks because noxious gases in the hold were so potent that even masked people couldn't be in there for more than two hours at a time.

Once the fish had been removed the 250 tonnes of fuel would need to be pumped out, it said.

Afterwards it will be decided whether to try to refloat the Shen Gang Shun 1 or to dismantle it.

Shark bodies stitched up with cut-off fins inside them.

Shark bodies stitched up with cut-off fins inside them. Photo: Te Ora Naho FB

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