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When an oil spill from a ship that ran aground ruined Hong Kong fish farms

Post MagazineShort Reads

When an oil spill in Hong Kong waters from a ship that ran aground caused a mass fish kill

A Danish container ship ran aground in 1977, releasing tons of crude bunker oil into the waters around Lamma Island that left 110 tonnes of dead fishThe spill also killed fish fry, and the 138 fish farmers affected by the spill were later compensated by underwriters for the Maersk shipping lineFrom our archivesDave BesselingPublished: 11:15am, 20 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

“Several tons of crude oil poured from a Danish container ship which ran aground off Lamma Island yesterday,” reported the South China Morning Post on September 20, 1977. “Although Marine Department workers managed to control much of the spill, some slicks are threatening Picnic Bay fish farms.

“Five launch crews with emulsifiers and booms battled for hours to control the spill, which began about 1.15am after the Adrian Maersk ran aground near Boulder Point on Lamma Island.

“Rocks tore open two fuel tanks containing about 400 tons of crude bunker oil, but exactly how much escaped is not known. A large boom around the ship’s hull is containing the oil which was still leaking yesterday.

“Before the boom was positioned, oil drifted to Luk Chau Wan on the eastern side of Lamma Island, about a mile from the grounded ship. Oil slicks moving along the coast coated rocks before entering Picnic Bay.

It was estimated that the oil spill cost HK$10 million. On January 7, 1978, the Post reported that “more than [HK]$5 million was paid yesterday to 138 fish farmers as compensation for the fish they lost due to oil that escaped from a Danish container ship when it ran aground on Lamma Island last September”.

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