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Council Strengthens Harbour Protection

Media release
21 February 2013

Council Strengthens Harbour Protection

Learnings from involvement in the Rena clean-up has helped Auckland Council’s Harbourmaster take proactive steps to protect Auckland in the event of a maritime incident resulting in a marine oil spill.

A new multipurpose vessel, which joins the Harbourmaster fleet in June this year, will boost capacity and be equipped to deal with significant oil spills. In addition to any oil spill emergency response work, the vessel will be used for regular maintenance tasks and support requests for assistance from, for example, the Police dive squad.

Mick Courtnell, Maritime Pollution Response Coordinator, says following involvement in the Rena clean-up, the team reviewed risks and options for a similar scenario in Auckland.

“Increasing marine traffic comes with many risks. In January alone, 19 million litres of fuel was transferred between ships and trucks in the harbour.

“Given the harbour is used increasingly for commerce and recreation, the new vessel will strengthen our capacity to be able to respond to any emergency.

“We have to be prepared and protect our harbours and coastlines from harm, the new vessel will help us achieve just that.”

The vessel is one of several initiatives to safeguard Auckland’s harbours and coastlines from environmental risks. Electronic Virtual Aids to Navigation have been installed on hazards such as submerged reefs on approaches to Auckland to improve safe passage in and out of the region.

A new item of specialist oil recovery equipment has been provided by Maritime New Zealand to recover oil from water surfaces. The equipment is the first of its kind in New Zealand and is designed to be compatible with two Harbourmaster vessels. Increased storage for surface oil clean up has also been added.

There are 40 specially trained personnel from Auckland Council and Ports of Auckland, which are able to respond in the event of an oil spill, and work closely with Maritime New Zealand. In addition to regular exercises on the harbour, a practice scenario is planned for March, where emergency response services will complete a desktop exercise for a chemical spill to ensure their emergency response is robust.

ENDS

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