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Covert Operation Catches Fishers Out

Covert Operation at Poor Knights Marine Reserve Catches Fishers Out

The Department of Conservation has been running a covert compliance operation at the Poor Knights for some time. The operation has involved aerial, remote video and water based night surveillance.

On Friday 27 August a number of people were apprehended for fishing well inside the Poor Knights Marine Reserve. DOC officers with the assistance of the Ministry of Fisheries seized large quantities of fish and equipment.

The success of the operation, leading to offender apprehensions during darkness has been attributed to the advancement of electronic and surveillance technology along with skilled DOC compliance officers.

In addition, credit is also due to a large number of “coast watchers”, private individuals and commercial charter boat operators who share a passion to protect the outstanding marine environment of the Poor Knights and are willing to support DOC in their endeavours to see fish stock protect and restored.

Enquiries are continuing with a view to prosecuting the people involved in the incident.

Fishing in a marine reserve is an offence under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 and carries a penalty of up to three months imprisonment, a $50,000 fine or both.

The Poor Knights Marine Reserve was established in 1981 with all marine life protected to 800 metres off shore.

In May 1997 Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced that limited recreational fishing of some species, which had been previously allowed at the Poor Knights would cease completely on 1 October 1998.

The Marine Reserve is now closed to fishing with all marine life within its boundaries protected.


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