IOM Micronesia assist mariners on stricken tanker

A crew of stranded Chinese sailors were the unlikely beneficiaries of IOM’s Micronesia last week after a Kiribati-flagged vessel – stranded on a reef off the capital Pohnpei – ran low on power and food.

The Ping Da 7 is a huge refrigerated fish carrier which has been stuck on the Kepikepin Parem reefs since December 11, carrying a large load of fuel, oil, ammonia coolant and lube oil. The government has declared an emergency as the vessel has recently begun to leak.

“When the department of Justice contacted us we got together with the national police force to get cooking equipment and food to the stranded crewmen,” said Ashley Carl, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Pohnpei. “This is consistent with our mission – we don’t just give advice on migration, we also work to assist any migrant in trouble, including stranded sailors.”

IOM and the national authorities purchased fresh vegetables and fruits, rice, ramen noodles, canned meat, eggs, and butane cookers with extra cooking gas canisters and delivered it by boat to the Ping Da 7 and its crew.

The Government of the FSM and the IOM will continue to provide assistance to stranded migrants wherever possible through the Migrant Resource Center located in Kolonia, which will celebrate its one year anniversary in March.

In the meantime, the outlook is not good for the Ping Da 7 and her crew.  “They have no power for the majority of the day as they are dependent on tide for cooling the generator”, says IOM’s Ashley Carl. “They can’t get rid of their refuse, and the boat is constantly moving and being pushed farther up the reef. It’s essentially sitting on dry coral when the tide is low.”

Whilst incidents involving ships of this magnitude are rare, large fishing vessels do occasionally hit the reefs of outer islands causing significant environmental damage to reefs that are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change.