A great tragedy and loss of life was averted by the swift action of the NSRI and other emergency authorities yesterday when the 29 meter steel Crayfish boat Baratz sunk at sea off of Cape Recife on Thursday 26 November 2015 – all 25 seamen were saved (See: Fishing boat sinks off Cape Recife).
Myself and Silke put out to sea from the Port of Port Elizabeth this morning en route to the scene of the Baratz sinking. Much to our dismay we observed a ship, Panayiota K, apparently emptying her bilges and holding tanks inside the port leaving a brown polluted slimy film on the surface of the water. Some scientists say that the presence of Red Tide in our bay can be traced to these ‘foreign waters’ being emptied in our bay.
It is my opinion that the Port Authorities should not allow this to occur with the port – especially with all this talk and planning of a recreational harbour supporting Port Elizabeth’s long awaited Waterfront.
As we arrived at the scene of yesterday’s sinking our first thoughts were that this disaster could be one to destroy Port Elizabeth as an international Hope Spot. It seems as though no-one has assumed responsibility for rapidly deploying a plan to clean up the wreck and 27 tons of diesel that is being released from the wreck.
The Baratz lies at a depth of 24 metes and we dived down only to hit a mixture of diesel and sand just above the wreck which reduced the visibility to less than nothing. Ropes and flotsam litter the wreck and pose a real maritime hazard off of the Cape Recife Nature Reserve.
No-one who has put to sea today was apprised of this maritime hazard and, when I enquired from the Port Control Tower if they could give me the co-ordinates I was asked to provide them to the Port as they did NOT have them.
The co-ordinates are: S 34 01 014 E 25 43 300.
It’s a shame that the authorities don’t seem to care or want to take responsibility for preventing this environmental and maritime disaster from inflicting more damage on our sea-life and coast as the oil and diesel continues to pollute Algoa Bay. From the air you can clearly see the spill drifting towards Evans Peak – close to St Croix and the penguins.
If the wind swings to the east tomorrow (as predicted) the spill will spread into the centre of Algoa Bay and could land on our beaches. If the diesel/oil/sand mix lands on the Cape Recife Nature Reserve side it could well cause harm to the millions of abalone that have been seeded in the area over the last year.
I expected to see divers deployed and a boat on station marking the navigational hazard whilst picking up any wreckage that may surface – but no-one was there making Silke and I lose Hope for Algoa Bay’s Hope Spot.
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