On Nov. 8, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) signed a contract to begin operating remotely operated underwater vehicles, or ROVs, to investigate the containers lost from the YM Efficiency container ship.
The ship lost dozens of cargo containers in the summer due to a massive storm. In July, the ship’s insurer, Aus Ship, and operator, Yang Ming, conducted survey operations in the area and located approximately 37 containers, but there have been delays in further search operations as a result of weather and sea conditions. An analysis by AMSA of the completed surveys indicates that there are as many as 42 containers still missing.
Although weather conditions have played a part in the lack of search efforts recently, AMSA has expressed concern for the lack of progress in locating the remaining containers, as well as the lack of an attempt to assess the need to recover the containers and debris found so far on the seabed.
“The presence of these containers in the valuable fishing grounds off Newcastle presents an unacceptable risk to local fishers,” says AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley.
“The dangers of hooking up on debris has understandably led to many local trawlers avoiding these valuable areas which not only impacts their livelihood but also has knock-on effects for the local industry.”
Aside from the economic impact, these containers and their contents on the sea floor are cause for great concern for the marine environment.
AMSA says that the scientific advice it has received shows several environmental concerns — the most serious of which involves the large amount of plastics contained in the lost containers in the form of consumer products and packaging.