A catamaran with oil spill containment booms is on its way to the French Polynesian atoll of Arutua to start the salvage of a Chinese fishing vessel stuck on the atoll's reef.
The ship Shen Gang Shun 1, which ran aground on 21 March, has 250 tonnes of fuel and about 70 tonnes of rotting fish on board.
Last week, an assessment team found the ship was firmly stuck and detected only minor pollution.
The catamaran under way with specialists from the Odewa engineering company carries more than 400 metres of spill containment barriers which will be laid out with Arutua residents being trained on site.
The team from Tahiti will stay on the catamaran as part of the Covid-19 distancing rules.
The government said the salvage operation will be difficult.
It said once the barrier was in place the salvage crew would have to remove the rotting fish which would take about four weeks because noxious gases in the hold are so potent that even masked people wouldn't be able to be in there for more than two hours at a time.
Once the fish had been removed the 250 tonnes of fuel would need to be pumped out, it said.
Afterwards it will be decided whether to try to refloat the ship or to dismantle it.
Two weeks ago, the ship operator Shenzhen Shengang Overseas Industrial Company was referred to the public prosecutor because the ship had a large quantity of shark meat on board in what is a shark sanctuary.