MELAKA: A cargo ship’s Indonesian skipper and engineer have been detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for allegedly polluting the sea.
Housing, Local Government and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tey Kok Kiew said the captain, 41, and the engineer, 37, were arrested on board the vessel at 1pm yesterday to facilitate investigations under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952.
He said action was taken after The Star highlighted the dumping of coal dust along the shoreline of Pantai Puteri.
Fishermen captured the video footage of the ship discarding the material into the Strait of Malacca on Aug 1.
Tey said Tanjung Bruas Port was the ship port of call here to unload coal consignment from Lumut, Perak.
“We believe the Port Klang-registered ship dumped the coal dust after delivering the consignment, ” he said.
Tey said recent scientific research found that coal dust could be devastating to aquatic ecosystems.
“Coal dust pollution could harm the underwater flora and fauna since oxidising coal particles reduce the oxygen available for marine life such as mussels and crustaceans, ” he said.
Tey said coal contained different chemicals, including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). He said certain components of coal PAHs could cause biochemical changes in fish and when consumed could cause cancer in humans.
“The most worrying point was that coal dust has a very slow degradation pace and cause depletion of marine life, ” he said.
Meanwhile, State Agriculture, Agro-Based, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee is leading a team which is looking at possible action which can be taken against the ship’s owner.
The team includes representatives from the Marine, Department of Environment and Melaka Fisheries Departments.
Norhizam said there were six crew members on the vessel during the surprise inspection at 1pm.
“I will make sure the ship’s owner also faces action for polluting our waters and causing misery to local fishermen, ” he said.
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