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Crew of stranded fishing vessel in Yap remain in 28-day quarantine

Regional News
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COLONIA, Yap (Yap State Government) — Over the centuries, ships have run aground on the reef surrounding the island of Yap.

The most recent one to run aground is a Taiwanese fishing vessel manned by nine crew members that operates legally within FSM waters.

The grounding occurred at 2 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2020 and the vessel began taking on water. When the Yap Fishing Authority received word of the emergency, the crew were directed to get into their own lifeboat and were towed into the harbor while a team from YFA, EPA, Marine Resources, OPB and Public Safety in the Office of the Attorney General were responding to the emergency and making preparations to quickly offload the fuel and the four tons of catch.

Due to a strict travel ban preventing any passengers from arriving by sea or air during the Covid-19 pandemic, the crew were immediately put into quarantine for 28 days and housed in tents set up in an isolated area on the dock. Security was sent to the site to ensure that none of them leave the isolated area and no unauthorized visitors enter the area.

Wearing personal protective equipment, medical personnel trained in Covid testing administered the test on the first and seventh days after the crew’s arrival. All were negative. Another test will be administered toward the end of their quarantine and they are being monitored for any symptoms of the virus until then.

The stranded fishing vessel in the waters off Yap. Photo by Joyce McClure

The fate of the ship is now being decided. The preference is for sinking it 12 miles out from the southern tip of the island. However, it is reported that this type of vessel is not easy to sink. In the meantime, residents on the mainland have complained about the smell of rotting bait that was not offloaded. This and all other matters relating to the vessel are being addressed by the incident commander, Victor Bamog, director of the Office of Planning & Budget, and the emergency planning team.

The case has gone to court and has been flagged for expediting to allow the crew to leave as soon as possible.

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