Marine oil spills are potential human-made hazards that threaten the coastal marine areas of the Waikato region. They can range from small spills from recreational boats to larger, more serious oil spills from commercial vessels passing through our waters.
Marine oil spills can cause serious damage to our coastal environments and the animal and plant life living in them.
Waikato Regional Council works with other agencies to prevent and plan for marine oil spills so we can minimise the impact these incidents may have on our environment.
If you spill oil anywhere in the marine environment you are responsible for:
Most marine oil spills in the Waikato region are from pleasure boats refuelling at wharves, jetties, or marinas. Often they are minor and require little or no cleaning up. More serious spills may happen from large commercial vessels passing near the Coromandel Peninsula.
Diesel is the fuel most often spilt. Larger vessels that use diesel fill up while on the water. Spills are most often caused by:
Under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, Waikato Regional Council prepares for marine oil spills in our region's coastal marine areas and responds to them should they occur.
Marine oil spills that require a response from Waikato Regional Council are dealt with by our Marine Oil Spills Response Team.
Oil spills that happen in freshwater such as lakes and rivers, are responded to by our Incident Response Team.
In large spills, our marine and freshwater response teams will work together with other agencies.
In New Zealand, marine oil spill response is classified into three tiers or levels as follows:
These response levels are also detailed here, in this PDF [PDF, 354 KB].
Waikato Regional Council has prepared a Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan which is approved every three years by Maritime New Zealand.
The plan outlines how we can:
We also carry out regular separate and combined training exercises involving our Marine Oil Spill Response and Incident Response teams.
Under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, Waikato Regional Council can prosecute individuals or organisations who cause a marine oil spill in our coastal marine areas. Freshwater spills are dealt with under the Resource Management Act 1991.
Reduce the chance of an oil spill occurring:
If you have a spill, make sure you report it as soon as possible. Call Waikato Regional Council's freephone 0800 800 401.
Spills less than two litres do not necessarily need to be cleaned up, but you will still need to keep a close eye on them and report them to Waikato Regional Council.
Clean up or control larger spills using:
Different clean-up methods suit different situations - check with Waikato Regional Council first. You can buy oil spill cleanup material from marine hardware merchants or call Waikato Regional Council's freephone 0800 800 401 for advice.
The Ministry for the Environment and Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) have also produced ‘Every drop counts’(external link), a pamphlet which has information on preventing and cleaning up fuel and oil spills.
You can view and order Waikato Regional Council's publications on oil spill issues and management