An ex-Eastern Bay of Plenty owned vessel could pose an environmental threat to Rarotonga after becoming stranded on a reef on Friday night.
Zambucca, which was formerly Whakatane-owned for charter fishing in the Eastern Bay, is currently at the centre of environmental concerns in the Cook Islands.
The 20-metre-long vessel was initially brought in from Australia and owned by an Eastern Bay fisherman for 18 years before being sold to Ocean Fresh Limited in Rarotonga last year.
In a post on Facebook, Ministry of Marine Resources Cook Islands says physical damage and fuel leakages are the main concern.
“Fortunately, the majority of fuel on board the Ocean Fresh vessel has been safely removed and thus far, no leaks have been observed.
“The location of the vessel is in an area next to the Aroko Ra'ui where MMR recently conducted fish, invertebrate and coral surveys.
“As efforts continue to remove the vessel from the reef, the Ministry's primary concern is the protection of the reef and health of the environment.
“The Ministry will continue to observe and monitor the salvage activities, including the use of heavy machinery in the lagoon, and conduct a re-survey of the area after the salvage efforts are concluded.
“These kinds of activities can be dangerous for those involved and we support efforts to salvage the vessel safely and efficiently.”