A proposal to use Tauranga boaties to deter birds from entering the huge oil slick pouring out of the Rena has been declined by the maritime disaster's management team.
The idea was suggested by Forest and Bird's Central North Island field officer Al Fleming who learned about it from another member.
Mr Fleming said he asked the maritime incident's management control team to consider deterring birds by asking Tauranga's boating community to patrol the edges of the slick.
It would have involved a line of boats searching for birds that rafted up in large numbers on the surface of the sea to feed on bait fish like anchovies and yellow eyed mullet.
Bait fish were often pushed to the surface by other fish hunting them from underneath.
Mr Fleming said the boats would have formed a barrier between the raft of birds and the oil slick.
Birds entering the oil not only drowned from the weight of the oil but their chicks on shore died of starvation.
Species vulnerable to entering slicks included fluttering shearwaters, diving petrels, and whitefaced and greyfaced petrels.
"They are very vulnerable at this time of the year."
Mr Fleming said fluttering shearwaters were on their eggs and diving petrels were busy feeding on the ocean because their chicks were hatching.
The greyfaced petrel colony on Mauao had chicks while whitefaced petrels were cleaning out their burrows.
However after advising the management team of the proposal, the team got back to him yesterday to say that research on deterring birds on the sea indicated it was ineffectual. There were public safety concerns and difficulties coordinating such a large number of boats.
Mr Fleming was due to meet with members of the management team today to hear them fully elaborate on the rationale against using boats as a barrier.
"I am interested in the research."
Forest and Bird was also supplying volunteers to help to help with the recovery and rehabilitation of wildlife caught in the oil. There had been such a good response that the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre had told Mr Fleming it had enough volunteers for the time being.
Meanwhile, two Department of Conservation launches were out yesterday looking at Motiti Island's coastline and the coast along Papamoa and Maketu. The crew were looking for wildlife and assessing potential risk areas.
And two investigators from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission have boarded the Rena to secure on-board recorders and begin interviewing crew as part of its inquiry into the grounding.
The Commission says the scope of the inquiry was still evolving. As well as seeking to explain the grounding, the inquiry could include the final extent of environmental damage and aspects of the post-accident response and salvage. The report will go to the International Maritime Organisation.