Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Customs impound tanker off Manus

AN oil tanker that ran aground on reef off the north of Manus, could have caused severe damages to the marine life if the oil and fuel it was carrying had spilled out, the PNG Customs Service said, The National reports.

The tanker, carrying 1,600 metric tonnes of oil and fuel with a crew of 21, including the captain, was detained by officials from PNG Customs, police

and National Fisheries Authority to establish grounds and impose possible fines under their respective laws as per breach of each of their regulations.

The PNG Customs Service will lay appropriate charges on the owner of the oil tanker for non-compliance in the provincial capital Lorengau.

The tanker is owned and operated by Singapore-based company Hai Soon International Trading Pte Ltd.

During the record of interview, Customs found that Hai Soon 5 was on a voyage through the high seas north off Manus Island to refuel fishing vessels operating in the international waters.

As it tried to pass through the PNG waters, the ship accidentally hit a coral reef and ran aground, but failed to inform PNG Customs and other relevant authorities of the incident.

The tanker is registered in Kiribati and its last port of call was Peyongtaek, South Korea bound for Hawaii.

Customs also found 10 pornographic DVDs during routine ship search and two crew members will also be charged for being in possession of prohibited items under PNG laws.

Customs commissioner Gary Juffa said all sea and aircraft entering and operating within the country’s boundary were covered by PNG laws.

“As Customs duty is to safeguard the country’s borders, its environment and the people, anyone found to break the Customs regulations would be severely penalised under the existing laws,” Juffa said.

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