18 Nov 2011

Rena exclusion zone to be cut back

5:20 pm on 18 November 2011

Maritime New Zealand says from midnight on Friday, the exclusion zone around the container ship Rena will be reduced to three nautical miles around the stricken vessel.

The exclusion zone had previously extended from Mt Maunganui to Maketu, and out to sea past the Rena, which is grounded 22km offshore.

The zone was put in place after a storm event in October resulted in 88 containers falling off the ship's deck.

Maritime New Zealand's assistant on scene commander, Andrew Berry, says there was a meeting on Friday between the harbourmaster, the regional council and other interested parties.

He says the risk is now assessed as low because of the efforts by Braemar Howells to recover container debris as well as the fact that it's been more than 30 days since containers were lost.

Mr Berry says there is still a three nautical mile restriction around the Rena so salvors can continue to use vessels and aircraft.

Meanwhile, a further eight containers were taken off the stricken vessel on Friday, taking the total removed to 31.

The removal of containers has stopped temporarily because of high winds.