Team practises for ecological disaster

Environment Canterbury will be leading an oil spill response exercise at South Bay, Kaikoura, on Tuesday, February 5.

ECan regional harbourmaster and on-scene co-ordinator Jim Dilley said the exercise was designed to bring together all the agencies that would be involved in a possible spill and to practise systems and equipment use.

"It is vital we undertake pre-planning work for any possible spill, and exercise our response team regularly," he said.

"This exercise is also about involving the community so we are keen for locals to know what is happening and we hope to see a few people come along to look."

Oil recovery and containment equipment and oiled wildlife response equipment will be brought to Kaikoura for the exercise.

The exercise will focus on the boat harbour at South Bay, but will include wildlife assessments at the north side of the peninsula and a review of the possible sites for treating any oiled wildlife.

The team of oil spill responders will include a wildlife assessment team consisting of ECan, Massey University and Department of Conservation staff.

ECan wildlife officer, Mimouk Hannan, said Kaikoura had an abundance of wildlife, much of which can be vulnerable to oil spills.

"Kaikoura has an abundant and diverse range of ocean wildlife including the huttons shearwater, an endangered seabird which breeds only in Kaikoura.

"It is vital we are aware of all the local wildlife, and identify methods of how to protect it from ecological threats," she said.

The multi-agency team includes members from ECan, Massey University, DOC, Kaikoura District Council and Maritime New Zealand.

Members of the public who wish to find out about the team are welcome to come to South Bay Boat Harbour from around 3pm on Tuesday, February 5.

The exercise is expected to be finished about 4.30pm.

Kaikoura Star