Momentum gathers to rid the Whitsundays of Tateyama Maru
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.