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Rena Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monitoring began soon after the grounding of the cargo vessel Rena on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef) which occurred on 5 October 2011.  Baseline sampling was initially undertaken as follows:

  • Water, sediment, shellfish, fish and algae were collected with habitat characterisation (photo and video) in a number of areas including Mōtītī Island, Karewa Island, Okaparu Reef and Motunau Island.  This sampling was coordinated by a team from the University of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
  • Sampling of water, sediment and shellfish was also coordinated by Tauranga City Council and Maritime New Zealand at a number of beach, estuarine and offshore island sites.

The samples have been analysed for a range of contaminants expected to be present in heavy fuel oil. The results provided a baseline against which future samples could be compared to assess the impacts of the incident.

This sampling provided the basis for a longer-term monitoring and research program which has been developed with input from key parties including iwi, MAF, DOC, Toi Te Ora Public Health Service and District Councils.


What is in the oil?

Oil from the Rena grounding contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAH's), which are known to be harmful to humans and wildlife. High levels of these compounds in shellfish and other marine life may render them unsuitable for consumption. Information on the composition of the oil is important when making decisions about which contaminants to monitor for.

Monitoring results

This page will be updated with monitoring information received by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Some interpretation will be provided but a full analysis of the data will not be undertaken until the response efforts conclude. For information on whether it is safe to consume seafood please refer to the Toi Te Ora Public Health website.

For further information please contact Rob Donald, Science Manager, Bay of Plenty Regional Council (