Northlanders are being urged to report any polystyrene they find washing up along the east coast as a major clean-up continues in the Cavalli Islands.
When Cyclone Lusi hit Northland in March, it tore a floating pontoon off a jetty at privately-owned Motukawaiti Island, opposite Matauri Bay.
The polystyrene-filled pontoon later broke up on nearby Kahangaro Island. Over the following three weeks innumerable pieces of polystyrene were scattered throughout the scenic Cavalli island chain. A kayaker who brought it to media attention at Easter said it was worst case of polystyrene pollution he had seen in 15 years of paddling the New Zealand coast.
The pontoon's owners were issued with an abatement notice by the Northland Regional Council ordering them to remove all debris by April 24.
Council staff inspected the islands last week Monday and again on Wednesday to check the clean-up's progress.
Coastal monitoring manager Ricky Eyre said contractors hired by the pontoon's owners had removed the largest chunks from the worst-affected island, Kahangaro, on Monday but many small pieces remained. When he returned on Wednesday about 15 workers were on the island collecting the small pieces and loading them onto a barge. They hoped to finish on Kahangaro by the end of Friday.
Mr Eyre said they were also required to clean up the other islands, such as Motukawanui, the largest in the group, and mainland beaches where the council had also found polystyrene fragments.
The Advocate has received reports of polystyrene washing up at Tapuaetahi, well south of the Cavallis, but Mr Eyre said most had been blown north.
He urged anyone who found polystyrene washing up to call the council's 24-hour environmental hotline, 0800 504 639.
Charter operators and Matauri Bay residents have complained about the three-week delay before the pontoon's owners started cleaning up in earnest, but Mr Eyre said the council's priority for now was ensuring the clean-up was completed.