By Kenton X. Chance
The derelict, abandoned, and wrecked vessels at Careenage Harbour/Canash Bay are scheduled to be removed by June 30, 2014, Prime Minister and Minister of Maritime Affairs, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has told Parliament.
The new deadline is one year later than the date by which David Robin, director of maritime affairs, told this writer in January, that the vessel would have been removed.
Responding in Parliament to a question from Opposition lawmaker, Sen. Linton Lewis, about the Government’s plans to remove the boats, Gonsalves said there are 13 vessels which require attention and action and called on the owners to move them.
“I just want to put out a plea. For instance, nine of the vessels which are there, they are too close to the shore. I want to ask those persons who own those vessels, please, move them before we have to move them, because it may become unpleasant, and there is no need for that,” he said.
“There is no need for you to park your vessels there — your boats there. And some of them can easily be put elsewhere,” he said, as he called on the owners of the vessels to work with the authorities to relocate the vessel.
“The vessel owners have to be responsible in helping to deal with this particular kind of a problem,” he said while responding to a question about the situation from opposition senator, Dr. Linton Lewis.
“I am happy that this question has been raised, but I want to say to the Honourable Senator Lewis, it is a matter which has been occupying our attention and now it has come to the House, the public will have a better appreciation of some of the issues which are involved in this particular matter, which are important,” Gonsalves said.
“We can’t have derelict vehicles on land, and we can’t have derelict vessels in our harbours. It’s simple,” he said.
Two of them, the Carla Marina and the Blue Monsoon are wrecks, in accordance with the Shipping Act, two are derelicts and abandoned, and nine are anchored too close to the shore and require relocation, he told Parliament.
A property owner in the area told this writer in January that the “Carla Marina”, the largest and most prominent wreck at the beach, was brought there almost a decade ago, and the vessels remain there even after the situation was called to the attention of current and past ministers under the current Government, including former ministers of tourism, health, and the environment.
But Gonsalves said that the removal of the vessels will be undertaken, according to the Maritime Office, by June 30, 2014.
“I don’t need to go into any detail as to why it make take longer in some cases, depending on the type of vessel. Those who are familiar with the law know you have to give a notice period, and the notice varies in fact in the Port Authority Act and also in the Shipping Act and that has to be ironed out — that discrepancy,” he said.
Marine Pollution Bill
He further said that a south coast marine conservation area, a marine park, will be soon to be established, and a Shipping Marine Pollution Bill brought to Parliament.
The marine conservation area will include the belt from Careenage Harbour/Canash Bay to Great Head Bay in Arnos Vale and the plan is to complete the park by 2015.
The establishment of the park will not only assist in dealing with the removal of current wrecks and derelict vessels, but will also provide on-site management to prevent and deal with any such recurrence, Gonsalves said.
The National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority and the Fisheries Division are coordinating the work, with support from the government of Germany, through the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions programme, he further told Parliament.
The Shipping Marine Pollution Bill, which is being prepared with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, will support existing legislations and will provide the legal framework for the prevention of pollution by ships, involving the discharge of oil, noxious fluids, liquid substances, pollutants in packaged form, sewage, garbage, ozone depleting substances, and green house gases, Gonsalves said.
“This is of significance to the Careenage Harbour, which is a base for several yacht charter companies and other vessels.”
He said a national ocean policy and strategic plan is being developed with assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, and within the framework of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and that Commander Robin is playing an important role in that regard
Gonsalves said that the OECS and the wider Caribbean need to develop a lot more capacity to deal with vessels.