Mo­men­tum gath­ers to rid the Whit­sun­days of Tateyama Maru

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Carruthers

MICK Un­der­wood makes his liv­ing from the pris­tine wa­ters off Monte’s Reef Re­sort in the Glouces­ter re­gion of the Whit­sun­days, where the beach­ing of the in­fa­mous Tateyama Maru in the wake of Cy­clone Deb­bie poses a real threat to the frag­ile ecosys­tem of the Great Bar­rier Reef Ma­rine Park and his trade as a fish­ing char­ter op­er­a­tor.

The owner of the ship, Pa­trick Von Stieglitz, says there are two-and-a-half tonnes of oil on board the former Ja­panese re­search ves­sel and Mr Un­der­wood is the prin­ci­pal sig­na­tory of a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the re­moval of the wreck.

“It is a po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter beg­ging to hap­pen,” he said.

“It’s got three tonnes of oil on it. Imag­ine if just one tonne got out in an off­shore sit­u­a­tion – it is go­ing to blow out into the en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mem­ber for Whit­sun­day Jason Costi­gan has been a vo­cal op­po­nent of what he called a “rust bucket”.

To­gether with the Shadow Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment Dr Chris­tian Rowan, Mr Costi­gan in­spected the ship up-close on Fri­day.

“I think Mar­itime Safety Queens­land should be di­rected by the Min­is­ter for Trans­port to re­move the wreck,” Mr Costi­gan said.

The pe­ti­tion, which is avail­able on­line, will be tabled at the next sit­ting of the Queens­land Par­lia­ment on May 9.

It is also avail­able at Montes Reef Re­sort, the Dingo Bach Ho­tel and the Dingo Beach Store.

“Of all the ves­sels that have been ma­rooned off the back of Cy­clone Deb­bie, this baby here is the one that causes the most con­cern,” Mr Costi­gan said.

The owner of the ves­sel Mr Von Stieglitz has met with MSQ twice in as many days in an at­tempt to de­liver a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem posed by the ship.

“They have of­fered to help and we are all on the same page with re­spect to get­ting the ship off the beach,” he said.

But what a so­lu­tion looks like, how much it will cost and who foots the bill is far from be­ing de­ter­mined.

Mr Von Stieglitz said he ap­proached Mar­itime Safety Queens­land prior to the cy­clone and stated he was pre­pared to re­lin­quish own­er­ship rights if he was guar­an­teed im­mu­nity from fur­ther pros­e­cu­tion.

“We all came to the con­clu­sion that we were go­ing to sign (the ship over), but then they baulked at it be­cause they didn’t want to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ship,” he said.

Mr Von Stieglitz has called for sweep­ing re­forms to the ma­rine in­sur­ance in­dus­try and he also be­lieves an in­quiry needs to be made into “how we got into this sit­u­a­tion”.

“(And) how are we go­ing to deal with it in the fu­ture. This has gone on ev­ery year, and there needs to be some sys­tem to pre­vent it,” he said.

The Tateyama Maru.

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