Longliner Runs Aground On Cook Islands Reef

admin's picture

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Rescuers work to remove a ton of fish from stricken vessel

By Cameron Scott

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 20, 2016) – A team of rescuers worked frantically yesterday to remove a ton of fish from the hold of the longliner Wairau which went aground on the reef off Betela, Arorangi early yesterday morning.

The fish was removed to lighten the 19m ship for an attempt to tow it off the reef at high tide at 5.25pm.

The Wairau was on a heavy lean on the reef when CI News visited the scene at 8.15am. At that stage a group of about 12 people were wading out to the vessel and several were aboard. The PSL vessel Tiare Taporo and the police patrol boat Te Kukupa were nearby.

National Command and Coordination Centre manager, Constable Alan Rua, said late yesterday afternoon that police had been alerted to the stranding at 7.49am and had been told the five-man crew was safe. A response team of six police officers had visited to the scene later in the morning.

A lack of communication between ship and shore had initially hampered rescue efforts, and later in the rough seas had also created problems, he said.

"They are battling high seas so we are monitoring the situation. At this point most of the fish has been taken off and transported to Avarua. Efforts are being concentrated on trying to save the ship."

The crew and a team of rescuers had been readying the vessel for an attempt to tow it off the reef late yesterday afternoon using the Cook Islands Towing tug boat Tiro, Rua said.

There were no reports of fuel leaking from the Wairau.

Bill Doherty, whose company Ocean Fresh operates the vessel said he was "too busy" to comment.

No information on the circumstances of the stranding were available, but a local woman living at the beach, who asked not to be named, said she had noticed a vessel’s lights near the reef at about 4am and thought they seemed too close.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment