When an existing navigation hazard is now a navigation hazard - how bizarre!
By Dave Moran
The fate of the remains of the container ship Rena that thundered into Astrolabe reef off New Zealand's North Island's east coast city of Tauranga on 5 October 2011 seems to be destined to be totally removed. The large section of the stern that broke off is now completely submerged. That is the section that divers are keen to see remain where it is. What a dive it will be (once remaining containers are removed and some diver access/safety holes are cut) for many years to come.
What a boost for Tauranga's economy and especially for those businesses involved in diving and charter boats.
What has staggered me is the lack of motivation by businesses in Tauranga to see if they can ensure the stern section does not end up as scrap metal for manufacturing razor blades! How bizarre!
On 17 January, Shane Wasik the New Zealand Underwater Association (NZUA) president advised the Minister of Transport and the then Maritime New Zealand's five member board (Keith Manch, Director) of NZUA's opinion re the future of the wreck's stern section. Note: Maritime New Zealand is now ministered by Associate Minister of Transport who is Simon Bridges the MP for Tauranga!
The NZUA received a letter from the Honorable Gerry Brownlee on 20 March in response to Shane's email of 17 January. In his letter the Minister advised the following: '‘The Director of Maritime New Zealand has notified the owners of the Rena that the ship, its cargo, and equipment are a hazard to navigation, and the owner has an obligation to secure and remove the hazard'.
Most people would have thought Astrolabe reef to be a navigation hazard! But apparently not, it's only now that a ship has hit it that it's a hazard.
The Minister goes on: 'Vessels used for the purpose of dive sites in the Coastal Marine Area require resource consent. The owners of the Rena could apply to the regional council for a consent of this type'. Is the Minister not aware that the owners of the Rena must have already received resource consent before running the ship up on the reef? How bizarre!
Apparently there may have been some comments re diving by Maritime New Zealand during their on going discussions with the owners or their representatives. Simon Bridges' office has advised:
'If the Rena's stern section is stable and any discussions on its possibility as a dive site evolve, there will of course need to be wider consultation with local interest groups such as BOP Regional Council, iwi, Port of Tauranga, dive and boating clubs, etc. Until we have an outcome of the discussions with the owners, it would be premature to comment further.'
For me the words 'any discussions on its possibility as a dive site evolve' says it all. Who will be or was sitting around that discussion table pushing for the stern section to remain as a tourist dive site? It could be a safe bet - no one. But then again maybe there was - pigs can fly too. How bizarre!
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Have you started thinking about your tropical winter escape? Now is the time to check out the many dive travel articles on our website. You will find a destination that will fulfil your dreams and hopefully within your budget - enjoy! There is still plenty of excellent diving to be enjoyed during the winter months at home too. We are often blessed with some spectacular clear sunny days with not a breath of wind on the water. Make sure you don't miss out!
The team at Dive New Zealand/Dive Pacific magazine trust you enjoy this issue. We love receiving your comments, plus what else you would like to see in the magazine.
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