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Tristan da Cunha secures ‘fair deal’ over shipwreck calamity

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The owners of the ship that broke up on Nightingale Island have agreed a compensation deal with the Tristan da Cunha government.

The bulk carrier MS Oliva ran aground on 16 March 2011. No people were harmed, but thousands of penguins were killed by leaking fuel, despite a massive rescue operation by islanders.

The disaster caused damage to the islands’ fishery, which is vital to the Tristan economy, as well as to a highly sensitive environment.

The indisclosed settlement still leaves unanswered questions. One source told St Helena Online:

“We still don’t know why a modern, well-equipped Maltese-registered ship could run into Nightingale Island at 14 knots.”

A report is expected to be released soon. Further details will be posted on this site shortly.

Ken Baddon, St Helena’s Attorney General, is to discuss legal aspects of the Oliva affair in a presentation to his counterparts in other British overseas territories, at their annual conference in Bermuda. His paper is titled, Maritime Mishaps and Colonial Laws.

Sean Burns, the administrator on Tristan da Cunha, said details of the settlement were a private commercial matter.

He said: “We are satisfied that the settlement represents a reasonable and fair deal for us to move forward with the management of the fishery and protection of the environment.

“In the meantime the fishery at Nightingale remains closed and the quota at Inaccessible has been reduced to 44 tonnes. These are provisional quotas that will be reviewed at a meeting of fishery experts in Cape Town in November. James Glass, our fisheries director, will be attending on Tristan’s behalf.”

Tristan’s conservation department would shortly begin penguin counts around the islands, he said. “Further details will be posted just as soon as they become available.”

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