By Donna Collins
THE controversial Russian fishing vessel – the Ryazanovka – which was dubbed as a ‘killer’ vessel by Walvis Bay marine life activists, will be meeting an undignified end to its deep fishing career, and is doomed for the scrap heap if all goes according to plan.
With its original plan to harvest and export live marine mammals to China halted – the 25-year-old Russian vessel manned by a Chinese crew is getting ready to be scrapped as it pulls into Namport Berth 8 this week. The vessel which has been lying idle for months could not undergo a much needed repair, which proved too costly.
Buks De Koker, manager and purchase agent of Scrap Salvage Namibia, confirmed to Confidente on Monday that he received an email reply from a certain Mr Sharapob in Russia on that same day, thanking him for the offer he made. The correspondence indicated that the offer to purchase the vessel for scrap is still to be discussed with the ship’s owner, and that they will be getting back to him shortly.
“I haven’t even seen the vessel yet, but we work on a fixed rate, with our offer being based on the length and the weight and of the ship,” said De Koker, claiming that they have cut up dozens of vessels over time, and that the Ryazanovka won’t be the first one this year, as they are currently busy with one that already came into the yard last month.
“If the sale goes through and we take ownership, all dealings will be done through our attorneys Malherbe,” he said, adding, “Provided we get a space on the synchrolift, it should take us around a month to cut her up.”
He also explained that most of the time vessels of that age and condition are just steel and scrap and there is not much else like wood or other parts to salvage, which is why it would have been very costly to repair.
“Not all vessels that come in are being scrapped because they are in a bad condition, some owners want to upgrade their ships for newer models, which is much the same as people trading in for a new car,” he added, saying that there is no sentiment attached to this job – it is purely business.
News of the Ryazanovka likely being scrapped was met with triumph by the ardent group of Walvis Bay activists ‘Namibians Against Plundering of our Seas’, who fought tooth and nail against the capture and or killing of Namibians marine mammals for the Chinese market. “This is good news but we need to remain vigilant as this might not be the end of this saga.”
The Ryazanovka entered Walvis Bay on September 18 last year, and from day one, these activists fuelled the storm that erupted over the ship’s intention to capture and transport protected marine animals from Namibian waters.
Speculation was rife that the vessel’s purpose was to catch even kill, amongst others seals, dolphins, sharks and whales for export to the Chinese growing aquarium market. The harvest quota was to be hundreds of different species, but this was said to be questionable as the vessel was terribly run down, undersized for marine transportation and rigged with whaling trapping gear to capture and kill.
During the height of the debate the Minister of Fisher¬ies and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau stressed that neither the Chinese company nor the vessel had received a permit for the capture effort.
For months the large rusted fishing vessel remained anchored close to port with talk of it being repaired. The need of service was validated by the Namibian Ports Authority as well as the Directorate of Maritime Affairs, as without this legislative requirement the vessel would not be able to depart from Namibian waters.
In this regard Elgin Brown & Hamer Namibia (EBH) was contacted by a representative of Ryazanovka late December with the request to attend to repairs. However, the cost estimate to have the Ryazanovka repaired for seaworthi¬ness and the classification was too expensive.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015