Boat skippers are being urged to take a cautious approach when leaving or entering the Whakatane Harbour.

Low river flows, in combination with the impact of rough sea conditions on boat dredging activities, have seen the minimum low tide depths through the outer section of the Whakatane River entrance reduced to between 1.0 and 1.5 metres.

In light of the situation, the Whakatane District Council is recommending that boat skippers take a cautious approach when entering or leaving the harbour and observe the three-hour restriction either side of low tide for deeper draught vessels.

Council Strategy and Economic Development General Manager Julie Gardyne says that with additional boats due to be using the entrance during this weekend's fishing tournament, the briefing for skippers would emphasise the need for a precautionary approach, particularly if the sea conditions make bar crossings marginal.

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"Land-based dredging through the Narrows section will resume on Monday and we will also take every available opportunity to deploy boat-based bucket dredging, but the likelihood is that that will not have a significant impact on minimum depths in the short-term," she says.

"In the meantime, we would urge boaties to be particularly careful when they use the harbour entrance."