Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff are assisting Maritime New Zealand with the response to a cargo ship grounding near Tauranga overnight and a 1 kilometre exclusion zone has been declared.
The fully laden container ship, the 236m Rena, grounded on Astrolabe Reef, approximately 11.5 nautical miles from the Tauranga coast, at 2.20am local time today.
Regional Harbour Master Carl Magazinovic has directed all unauthorised vessels to stay at least 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) clear of the Astrolabe Reef and the grounded ship until further notice.
Mr Magazinovic said there were already reports of 'sightseeing vessels' near the grounded ship, potentially causing safety issues and disrupting response efforts."This situation is expected to continue for some time so we will be monitoring movement of vessels around the area, and anyone found breaching the exclusion zone could face a fine of up to $20,000."
Maritime New Zealand declared a Tier 3 Response, due to the size and complexity of the grounding, and is managing the operation through the Incident Command Centre established at Mount Maunganui.
Maritime New Zealand's Marine Pollution Response Service (MPRS) has mobilised a team of trained responders, and has deployed specialist equipment to the site.