Maritime NZ, NZ Defence Force investigating oil spill off Far North coast

Three King Islands are north of New Zealand.
Three King Islands are north of New Zealand. Photo credit: Google Maps.

Maritime New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force are investigating after being alerted to an oil spill off the coast of the Far North.

Maritime NZ were notified on Monday by a fishing vessel to a "small marine oil spill" near the Three Kings Islands, according to incident controller Bruce Barton. It's unknown where the oil has come from.

Barton told Newshub in a statement that the vessel advised oil was seen on fishing gear and on a "small number of sea birds" in the immediate vicinity. 

After the notification was received, Maritime NZ began to try to determine the extent of the spill and "any actual or potential impacts". A Defence Force C-130 Hercules operating nearby was then sent to examine the scene. 

"This flight reported some possible small amounts of oiling on the shores of one of the islands in the group," Barton said.

Maritime NZ have now requested the NZ Defence Force orders "an aerial reconnaissance flight" to obtain images. A planned helicopter flight for Wednesday has, however, been cancelled due to poor weather in the area.

"The immediate focus is on establishing reliable information about the spill in terms of its location, volume and potential impacts," Barton said.

"In addition Maritime NZ is making preparations, including around oiled wildlife, for any possible response that may be required; it is too early at this stage to know what, if any, level of response might be required. In parallel with these activities, work is also underway to attempt to establish the origins of the spill."

The Three Kings Islands are made up of 13 small islands north of Cape Reinga, and are home to numerous rare plant and animal species.


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