The salvage operation for a ship which sank off the Canterbury coast last October with the loss of three lives has been abandoned due to bad weather.

A dive operation is instead underway to film the wreckage and recover "items of potential interest".

The 90-tonne fishing vessel Jubilee sent out a distress signal on October 18 after being caught in a brutal storm.

Fishermen Jared Reese Husband, Paul Russell Bennett and Terry Donald Booth were on board.


The bodies were later recovered by the navy's operational diving team.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opened an inquiry into the sinking late last year so any safety lessons learned can be passed on to the industry.

It contracted New Zealand Diving and Salvage to try and bring the Jubilee to the surface and tow it to Lyttelton where it could be inspected by commission investigators.

The boat has been moved two kilometres closer to the coast and in slightly shallower water but it will not be salvaged.

"Unfortunately the weather patterns have deteriorated, so rather than face the risk of the Jubilee being stuck in shallow water in bad weather, we have decided to send the salvage divers down now to extensively film the wreck and recover items of potential interest," chief investigator for the commission Captain Tim Burfoot said.

The divers have been working on the site since yesterday . The operation is expected to finish today or tomorrow.

Evidence gathered from the site will be assessed by the commission in Wellington, Mr Burfoot said.

The final report on the accident isn't expected to be completed until October.