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Remembering Rena: Oil spill research – In the News

Posted in In the News on May 9th, 2016.

Nearly five years after the ship Rena ran aground on Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef) and caused the worst oil spill in New Zealand history, a newly-published series of papers explores the lessons learned.

rena-oil-spillIn a new special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, guest editors Chris Battershill, Conrad Pilditch, Philip Ross, and David Schiel present new research on the aftermath of the Rena disaster, and the lessons that can be learned from it. The journal is making the articles freely available until the 25th May.

The papers range from dissecting the oil spill’s impact on sea life to reflecting on the incredibly efficient emergency clean-up by young volunteers that inspired paid cleaning teams to do better.

“By world standards, the Rena oil spill barely rates as a major event,” write the editors in their introduction to the issue.”In New Zealand, however, the spill and its concomitant contamination from debris and associated toxicants stand as a testament to what can go wrong in a country whose economy is based largely on shipping goods around the world.”

More information about the special issues and a full list of articles can be found on

The research has been covered in the media. Examples include:

SunLive:  Rena wreck still has risks
New Zealand Herald: Rena to be made an example of
RNZ: Rena wreck – boat itself worse than oil

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