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Sunken cargo ship causes waves as recovery is delayed.

Dubai The Ministry of Environment and Water told the Federal National Council (FNC) it has been coordinating with specialists from federal and local authorities to recover a cargo ship carrying hundreds of tonnes of diesel which sank off the coast of Umm Al Quwain in October.

According to a letter sent to the FNC, Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, said the ministry has also worked with specialised private companies to ensure the protection of marine and habitat facilities in the area.

The minister, however, failed to appear at the 40-member house to explain the ministry's efforts regarding operations to recover the ship, and sent a letter instead. But the FNC said that the minister must attend the next session of the house to answer their questions.

The letter stated that the ministry was working to protect environmentally and economically sensitive facilities and breeding and nursing habitats of marine species across the country's coastline.

Bearing the costs

"The case of the vessel was now with the Public Prosecutor. The Ministry of Environment and Water demanded that the owner of the ship bear the costs of recovering it and any other related works," Bin Fahd said.

Hamad Ahmad Al Rahoumi, an elected member from Dubai, put a question to the minister on measures taken by the ministry to address the problem.

Al Rahoumi, who heads a committee on agriculture and fisheries, insisted the minister had to explain to the house the development of the accident and said he wanted the Ministry of Environment and Water to get to the root of the problem. "Efforts should be made to correct or eliminate the root causes of ship sinking and oil spills rather than beating around the bush."

The owner of the ship, the White Whale, is unable to pay for the damage caused as well as the salvage operation, Gulf News has learned.

Severe effects

An official at the Ministry of Environment and Water said this has caused a delay in recovering the sunken vessel, which was carrying more than 1,000 tonnes of diesel.

Al Rahoumi, General Manager of the Fishermen's Cooperative Society and the owner of the first live fish-trading project in the UAE, said oil spills severely affect marine wildlife, water desalination plants and creeks, to mention a few.

"Quicker actions and a higher degree of preparedness by the Environment Ministry are needed to truly solve the problem by addressing its root causes."

The representative questioned the measures taken more than a month after the vessel sank.

The ship was said to be lying on the seabed at a depth of 35 metres, about 11 nautical miles off the coast of Umm Al Quwain.

Efforts should be made to correct or eliminate the root causes of ship sinking and oil spills rather than beating around the bush."

Hamad Ahmad Al Rahoumi

FNC member

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 14, 2011
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