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Fishing boat aground near stranded cargo ship

By Alan Ah Mu

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 1, 2009) - Another vessel has ended up on the reef at Mulilnu΄u Peninsula. This time it’s a fishing boat, the Tifa i Moana.

It is grounded a few yards from where Forum Samoa II is stuck.

Two crew of the vessel who "walked" to shore at low tide said they were grounded at 6 a.m. yesterday.

They blamed the Forum Samoa II for their plight – but in particular the maritime authorities for not telling them the ship was on the reef, and not anchored near the reef.

Ioka Matavao said they radioed Samoa Ports Authority and Fisheries about the ship in the way but "They didn’t reply to us."

Assuming the Forum Samoa II was anchoured they tried to go past it on the inland side on their way to the wharf.

Pushed by strong winds and waves they were startled to hit the reef, Mr. Matavao said.

If they had known the Forum Samoa was in trouble, "We would have waited until daylight before we came in," he said.

An officer from the Police patrol boat, Nafanua, came to check if any of those on board were injured, he said.

After putting on safety jackets he and Tauai Sione, five of the Tifa i Moana crew, walked to Mulinu΄u at the Apia Yacht Club, where they were relaxing yesterday.

They said they were waiting for high tide as told by SPA before any salvage attempt can be made.

"No work can be done," said Mr. Matavao yesterday afternoon, "the wind is too strong."

They were told not to unload their catch because it would make the boat lighter and easier for the waves to push it further into the reef.

Mr Matavao said they had 500 albacore and various other species of fish on board.

He is sure their boat has suffered damage.

Tauai Sione and Ioka Matavao.

"Because the boat is made of fibre glass, not steel."

They went fishing Friday last week.

An inquiry was faxed to CEO of SPA regarding the two vessels stuck on the reef. A SPA official telephoned to say they are attempting to salvage the fishing boat.

Yesterday evening, the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure issued this statement about the Forum Samoa.

"We wish to advise the public that on Saturday 29th August 2009 whilst being moved to anchor at approximately 1.00pm, the MV Forum Samoa II ran aground on the Western side of the entrance to Apia Harbour.

"There is no injury to personnel and no apparent damage to ship’s cargo.

"Three attempts by Samoa Ports Authority with support from Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Pacific Forum Line (Apia), and Samoa Shipping Services Ltd to move the ship away from where she’s grounded have been adversely affected by strong onshore winds.

"An expert salvage team will be arriving from Australia tonight. In the meantime, a team of four (4) arrived from New Zealand on Sunday evening consisting of the following:

This team have now commenced their surveys for an assessment of the existing situation for further assistance as required.

As more information comes to hand, we will keep the public informed."

The statement was signed by MWTI’s Chief Executive Officer, Va΄aelua Nofo Va΄aelua.

Yesterday, Pacific Forum Line also issued this notice to its customers:

To Our Valued Customers: The owners of the Forum Samoa II have instructed Salvors Svitzer Salvage Australasia PTY Ltd– to salvage the vessel.

Asaconsequence, General Average has been declared.

This may result in owners of property on board the vessel having to provide salvage security to the contracted salvor-namely, Svitzer Salvage Australasia PTY Ltd.

It is advisable to contact your insurance company to discuss this further.

Should you have any question, please contact your local Pacific Forum Line agency office or our Commercial team on+6493562334.

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