The salvage company working on the grounded container ship Rena says it has put a claim on some of the ship's cargo as a guarantee it will be paid for its work.
Svitzer Salvage will not say what percentage of the cargo it is claiming, but says it is setting the bar quite high, to reflect how complicated and time consuming the job is.
Spokesperson Matt Watson told Morning Report the company is putting a lot of time into the work and needs some sort of security to ensure the insurance companies will pay for it.
Mr Watson says he believes individuals who own property on board should be able to get the value of all their belongings back, as long as they have their own insurance.
Some property owners have been told the salvage company's charge is 80% of the value of their goods but Mr Watson says he can not confirm the figure for commercial and confidence reasons.
He says often the final cost is much lower than the security percentage asked for upfront.
Maritime lawyer Philip Rzepecky says the final fee is more likely to be around 50% to 60% of the value of the goods but even that would still be very high.
He says the salvors will be building a margin into the fee in case costs go up further.
Mr Rzepecky says it shows they see the salvage effort as a difficult and dangerous job.
Tauranga man Craig Fellows says his family's possessions, including a car, are in a container on the Rena.
He says his insurance company will cover the cost claimed by Svitzer Salvage, which he expects will equate to about $80,000.
However, he says the Government should help others who will have to pay to get their goods back.