Compulsory lane option for shipping

By Kiri Gillespie

An investigation into the possibility of compulsory shipping lanes has been launched in a bid to prevent future Rena-like disasters.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council announced the investigation following a committee meeting this week.

At Tuesday's meeting it was decided more work was needed to explore all the options available to council.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes applauded the council's initiative in launching the investigations, saying there was plenty of room for improvement.

"There's been a number of close calls and near accidents on our waters for a number of years. This will help harness a cost-effective solution to help with Rena-type accidents in the future," he said.

"Even the captain of the Rena said that New Zealand should have mandatory shipping lanes We are a maritime nation. It depends on coastal shipping. So having rules like these is important to prioritise our environment."

Committee chair Raewyn Bennett said safe shipping was a major issue for the region.

"With the recent history of the Rena grounding and because we have New Zealand's largest export port in Tauranga, we realise this is an important issue for our residents," she said.

"Because of that we want to make sure any future decisions made about the management of shipping routes are the best for the region.

"We also want to make sure we're addressing the concerns that our local residents have been making to us, including iwi and hapu, about coastal shipping and acknowledging the support many of them have given to us for this work."

The council has responsibility for navigation safety within the region's waters, which extend to 12 nautical miles offshore.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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