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Published: 2015-02-20 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council has removed a seriously unsafe vessel from Tairua Harbour after it was judged to be at risk from sinking, potentially creating an environmental and navigation hazard.

One of the key problems related to a sinking risk was the amount of shellfish – especially mussels – that had grown on the vessel’s hull. Some four tonnes of mussels were scraped off the hull after the vessel was removed from the harbour using a crane.

The council action last week only came after repeated requests to the owner to deal with the safety issues were not acted on, said maritime services manager Nicole Botherway.

“The harbourmaster and the council did not make this decision lightly and called in a surveyor and diver to provide a safety assessment.

“We were informed it was only a matter of weeks before this vessel sunk as the integrity of the hull was compromised by the pitting made by the oysters and mussels.

“This sinking danger was illustrated clearly by the fact that water poured from the vessel when the growth was removed after the vessel was taken from the harbour,” said Mrs Botherway.

She said the council felt it had been very fair to the vessel owner - repeated letters had been sent, many discussions had been had with him by phone and the local harbourmaster had visited him.

“Unfortunately, we ultimately felt we had to act to protect the environment and the safety of other water users. If we hadn’t acted we could have been faced with a much more expensive and complicated salvage operation, leaking fuel and oil and a navigation problem for other harbour users,” Mrs Botherway said.

The council will seek to recover the costs involved from the owner, she added. The name of the vessel and owner are not being made available at this stage.