Bay of Plenty iwi are pleading for the exclusion zone surrounding the Rena to remain, with the future of the wreck to be announced today.

The decision of an independent hearing panel on the resource consent applications made by Rena's owners and insurers to abandon the Rena wreck in situ on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef is due to be released at 2pm.

Forest and Bird have joined Nga Hapu o Motiti to ask the Government to leave the area around the wreck excluded from shipping, as it has been since Rena grounded on October 5, 2011.

The request has been made regardless of today's decision. The groups want fishing to be banned for at least another two years to allow marine biodiversity to continue its recovery.

It would be heart-breaking to see the wreck left in place, but it would be far worse to stop marine recovery by allowing the premature resumption of fishing.


The area sought for rahui - temporary closure - covers three nautical miles around a point on Astrolabe Reef, and covers an area of approximately 97sq km.

Russ Hawkins, Mount Maunganui Underwater Club captain and owner of Fat Boy Charters, has already submitted opposition to the idea.

Mr Hawkins said an extended exclusion zone would not make a difference.

"I've been going there for over 40 years when the Rena hit. To me it will achieve nothing."

Mr Hawkins said there was no threat of depletion of stocks because people had a hard enough time fishing at the reef in the first place. Weather conditions prevented fishermen from anchoring more often than not, he said.

"Over eight years leading up to the Rena hitting and in my logbook I was only able to go to the reef maybe twice a month.

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"The salvors say there are thousands of fish there now, but I can tell you there's been thousands of fish from way back when."

Forest and Bird chief executive Hone McGregor supported the temporary closure on the grounds that a continued exclusion zone would maintain the improvement in the marine biodiversity.

Mr McGregor said he believed the recovery of biodiversity of the Astrolabe Reef over the last four years should not be lost "prior to a community discussion on the future protection of the marine environments at both Te Tau o Taiti and Motiti Island, and the creation of a temporary closure would create the opportunity for this discussion to take place".

Te Atarangi Sayers, of Nga Hapu o Motiti who has a BSc Dip marine science, hoped the community would support the application.

"It would be heart-breaking to see the wreck left in place, but it would be far worse to stop marine recovery by allowing the premature resumption of fishing," Mr Sayers said.

"Even before the Rena went aground, tangatawhenua had noticed the depletion of fish stocks from the area.

"Combining an already declining fish stock with significant pollution from oil, cargo, debris and other contaminants has put an already threatened species under even more stress."

Mr Sayers implored the community to support tangatawhenua in its bid to recognise and give effect to a rahui on the area and allow species and marine life to continue to heal.

"The decision whether to endorse our rahui rests with the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy. We ask our community to make a submission in support of the temporary closure."

Submissions on Nga Hapu o Motiti's application for temporary closure under the NZ Fisheries Act close on March 14, 2016.