Grounded vessel damages Lamap reef

The community of Lamap in south Malekula has issued an urgent call for the MV Big Sista ferry boat to be removed from the protected Lamap Marine Conservation Area.

The vessel ran aground yesterday morning on reefs inside the conservation area, and the Lamap Conservation Committee is concerned about the vessel damaging marine life in the area.

The committee has called on the Vanuatu Government to assist the owner of the vessel to remove the ship from the reef area as quickly as possible.

“We are concerned about damage to the marine life in the area,” the committee’s chairman, Joseph Soksok said.

“We support the request from the vessel’s supercargo for the Government to help remove the vessel from the area.

“We are doing this because when the ship ran aground on Tuesday, it broke the reef and it killed many giant clam snails, green snails and trochus.”

Mr Soksok called on the ship’s owner to examine the damage the accident has caused.

“The chiefs in the community will sit down to write a letter to Port Vila stating all the damage caused,” he said.

He said the community wants the vessel removed quickly because of concern fuel or water leakages from the ship could pollute the area causing more damage.

The supervisor or supercargo for Big Sista, Shem Tarson, would not comment on why the vessel ran aground on Tuesday.

“We need some assistance [to remove the ship] because the MV Big Sista provides great assistance to the people of Vanuatu,” Mr Tarson said.

“If the Government can help us we can continue with the service.”

Mr Tarson confirmed all passengers were safe and that there were no injuries during the incident.

He said the ship’s crew and the community of south Malekula had helped to move stranded passengers to the Litzlitz Wharf in central Malekula so they could board another ship.

He said one attempt to remove the ship from the reef had failed.

“Since 2:00am yesterday, Tuesday, the vessel has been at Lamap,” Mr Tarson said.

“Another vessel came to pull the ship out but it was too small and the rope broke.” Mr Tarson said.

“We are sending students who were onboard the Big Sista to go to Santo on another ship and the costs will be covered by Big Sista.”

The Lamap Marine Conservation Area covers an area of three kilometers including the Lamap Landing.

The Lamap community in south Malekula set-up the marine conservation area in 2011.

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