Shipwreck and Oil Spill

October 2011, Warren Matthews

Summary

You may have heard over the last couple of weeks about a ship running into a reef on the North East coast of New Zealand. It seems to have had world-wide media coverage and as a result we have had many calls and emails from concerned customers that it may impact on our fish oil products.

You may have heard over the last couple of weeks about a ship running into a reef on the North East coast of New Zealand. It seems to have had world-wide media coverage and as a result we have had many calls and emails from concerned customers that it may impact on our fish oil products.

Will it? The short answer is an emphatic no for the following reasons:

Firstly, it is not the ecological disaster that some media around the world are portraying. Nothing like the Torrey Canyon (which spilt 119,000 tonnes) or other disasters that involved oil tankers! The vessel which run aground is a container ship. The loss of oil at the moment amounts to about 350 tonnes which is part of the fuel load of the ship. There was a total of 1,700 tonnes on board. Much of that is still contained in sealed tanks.

To put that this into perspective, an Olympic sized swimming pool contains about 2,500 tonnes of water. So, at the moment the spill is equivalent to about 1/7th of the content of a swimming pool.

A fair amount of that has been washed up on local beaches where there is an enormous number of volunteers busy cleaning it up. Some of it has washed out to sea where it will sink and be consumed by microbes with very little ecological impact. Fortunately they did not spray the oil with Corexit which are much more dangerous than the oil itself.

Last night there was a prominent ecology scientist on TV criticising the hype that has surrounded this event and giving reasons why it is not as bad as what is being made out. However, this does not diminish the seriousness of the situation which is a disaster for those folks in the close vicinity of the shipwreck. I really feel for these people as this is a beautiful part of the coastline rich in marine life and an important source of food for the locals. The anger surrounding the carelessness of the captain and crew is justified.

Everyone is pulling together to minimize the impact…but, it is very much localised.

OK... back to our fish oil. If you look at a map of New Zealand you will see that the accident took place in the Bay of Plenty (which by the way is aptly named). It is on the North east part of the North Island of New Zealand. Our hoki fish is harvested mainly well off shore off the west coast of the South Island, more than a 1,000 miles away. The currents do not ‘connect’ and the risk of any of this oil reaching that area is NIL.

So, you can rest easy that our fish oil is in no way impacted by this event. In any case the hoki season for this year is already over and our oil is already processed and frozen. The next harvesting is not until well into next year.

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