Sinking ship creates oil slick

Issue 

Sinking ship creates oil slick

By David Bass

PERTH — Fertiliser and fuel oil have polluted large parts of the Recherche Archipelago off WA's south coast and the coast of Cape Le Grand National Park, following the sinking of the bulk carrier Sanko Harvest on February 17.

The ship was carrying 30,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 600 tonnes of fuel when it ran aground on a reef between Hood and Hastings islands. It was outside recognised shipping channels.

An oil slick spread rapidly from the wreck, with oil and tar being reported from beaches up to 60 km apart on either side of Esperance. Many birds were killed, and a newly discovered colony of the protected New Zealand fur seal was badly affected.

There is also great concern over the effects of the large scale release of phosphate and ammonia fertilisers from the ship. Reef creatures, abalone and scallops are expected to die in the area. Local fishermen have expressed concern over possible effects on fishing stocks.