The Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand (MSA) has a mandate to promote a safe and clean marine environment and to provide an effective marine pollution response capability. As part of its obligations, the MSA is responsible for the New Zealand Marine Oil Spill Response Strategy and the preparation of a National Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plan for Tier 3 spill events (Maritime Transport Act 1994, S.283).

The MSA is currently working on the design of an extensive coastal information database—including information such as marine and natural resource inventories and coastal human-built infrastructures—that can be mapped in a GIS system. A customised toolset is also being developed to streamline the management of the database.

The benefits of GIS-based information management systems in oil spill response have been demonstrated by a number of overseas response agencies. However, many of these rely on discrete components or only fulfil specific individual requirements, such as the provision of coastal resource information.

Having reviewed these approaches, New Zealand has embarked on the development of a more integrated and comprehensive oil spill information management system that will deliver a broad range of applications and serve to provide a framework for the seamless management and reporting of all the types of data that are generated throughout the life cycle of an oil spill response. The system combines GIS and database technology. It includes field survey management support, as well as automated treatment mechanisms to produce reports and maps to support planning and operations. The system also integrates a pre-spill shoreline segmentation database.

The benefits of such a system will include the recording and presentation of all types of response data that is more responsive to the needs of operational decision makers; the ability to better track the progress of spill cleanup activities in both a temporal and spatial context; and the generation of customised reports to assist in cost recovery claims on termination of response activities.

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