The MP for central Newfoundland says the federal government is working toward a way to extract oil from a sunken ship near Change Islands in Notre Dame Bay.

Scott Simms, the Liberal MP for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, said that research has been ongoing since he raised the issue in Parliament last month.

He said Environment Minister Peter Kent told him the department was going to the Treasury Board to see if it can get funding to remove the fuel from the Manolis L.

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The Manolis L ran aground and sank in 1985 near Change Islands, Notre Dame Bay. (Courtesy Maritime History Archive, Memorial University)

"This is a very expensive endeavour," Simms said.

"They've had discussions now with companies that can do this. We currently do not have the capacity on the east coast to do it commercially, so there are many discussions taking place about that, so that's promising to me."

Simms said the leak is very small, but that doesn't mean he isn't concerned about the effects.

"It's catastrophic if a lot of this oil seeps into the waters," Simms said.

"The fishing industry, I don't even have to stress how bad it would be, given the lobster grounds, caplin, all these species of fish will be affected, and of course tourism."

He said it isn't clear exactly how the oil would be removed — or what the cost would be of that endeavour.

The Manolis L sank in more than 80 metres of water in 1985, and it's believed to contain more than 500 tonnes of fuel.