War on wrecks sets sights on Warunda

A blight on Cairns’ pristine waterways has been targeted for removal as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing war on wrecks.

The government has partnered with local company Carpentaria Contracting to remove former commercial fishing vessel Warunda, which has been a headache for boats trying to navigate the Trinity Inlet for more than a decade.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said a crew of eight would next week begin removing the 32m steel wreck with the complicated operation expected to take several weeks.

“A barge is already positioned beside the Warunda and they expect to start be cutting up the hull from early next week,” Mr Healy said.

“At a time when jobs have never been more important, not only will this make it safer for boats to travel through the inlet, it’ll also create $100,000 in flow-on business for local contractors.

“It’s great to see local marine businesses securing contracts to remove the vessels, because they in turn use local equipment hire for bobcats and other machinery, while local scrapyards reap the benefits of dismantling the boats.

Mr Healy said despite authorities placing an isolated danger marker buoy on the site to ensure boaties could clearly see the vessel's location, there had been several reports of inattentive skippers being involved in minor collisions, plus instances of vandalism and components being stolen from the Warunda throughout the years.

"When the contractors have removed all the pieces from Trinity Inlet, they’ll be making sure it’s properly disposed of to prevent any further risk of environmental damage and that the site is rehabilitated.

Mr Healy said the task to clean up the Warunda comes as the Palaszczuk Government nears completion on its $127 million shipping development project at the port.

“When our marine and tourism industries thrive, our city thrives. From wreck removals to major investments in these industries, we’re making sure that Cairns will be at the forefront on Queensland’s COVID-19 recovery.”

War on Wrecks Chair Kim Richards said the War on Wrecks program had removed 304 derelict and abandoned vessels from waters in the state's far north down to the New South Wales border.

“This year alone 144 vessels have been removed across Queensland,” Ms Richards said.

“We have an ongoing responsibility to clean up our marine environment and now we have an equally important mission to keep people in jobs at a time when they're most needed.

“This government committed $20 million over four years from 2018 to remove derelict and illegally dumped vessels from Queensland waterways and we are making tremendous progress on that mission.

“Local marine businesses can expect to see more work coming their way as the war on wrecks program continues to reduce a list of about 184 wrecks and vessels of concern.”

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell reminded vessel owners it is their responsibility to maintain their vessels to the necessary standard, or appropriately dispose of them, so they do not become hazards to the environment or safe navigation.

"Where they fail to do so, Maritime Safety Queensland will step in to have the vessel removed to keep our waterways safe and clean,” Mr Mitchell said.

"Where we think it is appropriate, we will also use our regulatory powers to seek cost recovery though the courts."


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