13 Aug 2012

Divers want Rena wreck left as tourist attraction

10:30 am on 13 August 2012

Scuba divers want the wreck of the cargo ship Rena to be left on Astrolabe reef in the Bay of Plenty as a tourist attraction.

The ship's insurer, the Swedish Club, has launched a series of studies into whether leaving the wreck in place would cause less damage than removing it.

The New Zealand Underwater Association says it would be a dive that could draw tourists from around the world, bring millions of dollars to Bay of Plenty businesses and help make up for the cost of the Rena's oil spill.

The Bay of Plenty iwi leaders' group says it would consider leaving the wreck if it could be proved that removing it would cause too much damage to the reef.

The Swedish Club says the studies will look at environmental, cultural, safety, recreation, tourism and community health aspects. Two scenarios will be considered: completely removing the wreck and assessing conditions once the bow section has been lowered to below the water line.

An American salvage company, Resolve, is preparing to cut up and remove sections of the bow, which is wedged on top of the reef.

The Rena ran aground off the coast of Tauranga in October last year.