SLSNZ ready for Rena fallout

Friday, 4 November 2011

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is keeping a close eye on developments in the Bay of Plenty, with the organisation well prepared for any disruptions this summer following the Rena grounding.

A number of smaller local surf sport carnivals have already been shifted to Waihi Beach, while beach education at both Omanu and Papamoa has been suspended until Christmas. Mount Maunganui's beach education lessons continue to run, however.

SLSNZ general manager for programmes and services, Brett Sullivan, said the key to planning for the summer was having access to the latest advice.

"We're really lucky to have a number of our key regional staff and volunteers actively involved in the clean-up and logistic operation and we're getting daily updates," Sullivan said.

"Our clubs and members have taken this crisis personally - our beautiful beaches are at the heart of our movement - but I've been really proud of how our staff and volunteers have responded. They've been right in there from the start, giving up countless hours to help restore our pristine coastline."

To date, Mount Maunganui's Main Beach has been the least-affected part of the coastline, with the beach remaining open.

That's the venue for the Eastern Regional championships, the Lion Foundation Surf League and the Oceans 12 under-14 national championships, which are among flagship events scheduled for summer.

However, Sullivan and his team will keep monitoring the situation and updating members, while working on contingency plans.

"At this stage, we're not making any commitments to where national and regional sporting events will be held but we'll be taking a very conservative approach to the process. Health and safety are of paramount importance to us and we won't run events, education programmes or put out a lifeguard patrol in dangerous conditions or polluted water."

The next few weeks will be critical for the success of the salvage operation and Sullivan expects to have a much clearer picture to make decisions by the end of November.