Fear of overcrowding since Rena site opened

Fear of overcrowding since Rena site opened

Divers are travelling from all over the world to take a look around the Rena shipwreck since the site was reopened three weeks ago.

But one Tauranga dive boss is concerned about the risks of overcrowding.

It is the result of one of New Zealand's worst maritime disasters, destroying local wildlife and leaving a clean-up operation costing more than half-a-billion dollars.

After five years the exclusion zone has been cleared around the Astrolabe Reef for divers and fishermen in vessels under 500 tones, bringing with it a surge in interest.

"On any given day there's been roughly round 20 to 25 vessels out there -- a mixture of fishermen and divers," says Maketu Coastguard president Shane Beech.

Boats are heading out on the waves to take advantage of the fishing. But a local dive expert has a warning for those who want to head below the waves.

"One of the major concerns is the traffic at the moment. Being so much interest to dive that dive site there's going to be every man and his dog out there," says Mr Beech.

The volunteer Makatu Coastguard has been monitoring activity for the initial period of its reopening. It says initial interest has slowed slightly, but it's still concerned about the long-term situation.

"We are doing daily monitoring of the boats, the size of the vessels and activity that the boats are doing, and reporting that back to the insurers and the owners.

"Obviously it's up to them to make the decision whether we continue or what happens out there," says Mr Beech.

Tauranga Dive director Jared Ross says the Makatu Coastguard has got a big job on its hands.

"We can't just rely on them, but who's going to stop those people from coming in here? Who's going to be policing that?"

The Coastguard says while activity around the site isn't its biggest concern, it's not something to ignore.

"You're in open water, that's the big thing. Conditions can change really, really quickly," says Mr Beech.

The Coastguard is handing out information to divers and boat owners on how to stay safe around the reef.

Permission has been granted for the wreck to stay permanently, so while concern around potential hazards remains, so too will the Rena.

Newshub.

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