Economic and Wild Life Precarious Position
Maritime law is very specific in the handling of a ship no matter what cargo it may carry. In the case of the cargo ship, the Rena, bad seamanship seems to be the main cause of why the ship got grounded on a well-charted reef. The Captain and another officer on the Libya-based ship claim that it was not mishandling by the ship's officers and crew but simply an unexpected accident. It seems that the ship's bow is wedged while the stern is floating unsecured. Everyone knows that it is just a matter of time before the Rena breaks free and then sinks.
In the meantime, she is spilling tons of oil into the sea that endangers the fragile balance of sea life, wild life and human inhabitants that reside in the town of Tauranga. The beaches in the area are pristine and popular with tourists so the oil spill and inherent danger of the sinking ship are causing economic hardship. Crews have been working tirelessly to clean up the spill but there is so much more that could leak from the ship before it sinks.
It seems that the Rena has a huge crack down the length of her bow that would be impossible to repair, so there is no hope of salvaging the ship. The urgent matter concerns controlling the leaking oil and removing the cargo that is still on the ship.
The Bay of Plenty where the disaster occurred is home to some very precious wild life such as seals, whales plus different species of wild bird life and penguins. Seven blue penguins and two other seabirds have already been transferred to a wild life rescue unit to see if they can cleansed of the oil that has encased them and hopefully they will survive. The true numbers of sea life and other mammals that inhabit that area have not been estimated as to how much loss there will be.
The officials are saying that amount of harm that will incur from the oil spill will run into the billions of dollars, and as always, the question arises as to who has to pay the cost for the damages. It would seem to be a simple assumption that the shipping company that owns the Rena, the Greece based Costamare Inc., would have to take the responsibility for the financial damage but that is still in the air.
The true tragedy, however, lies not on the perspective of financial terms, but on the impact to the marine environment due to New Zealand's worst oil spill ever.