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Boaties unaware of marine reserve


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13 February 2006

Boaties unaware of marine reserve

The Department of Conservation is concerned about the number of boaties still fishing in Auckland’s newest marine reserve off Waiheke Island.

On Waitangi Day DOC rangers talked to people in 20 boats all fishing within the 690-hectare Te Matuku Marine Reserve. DOC ranger Paul Keeling said most boaties claimed not to have known about the marine reserve, nor to have read the signs at boat ramps and on the boundary markers.

“Most people genuinely seemed to be unaware they were fishing in a marine reserve and were happy to move on when asked.”

The department was carrying out patrols over the summer in an effort to educate visitors about the new marine reserve, said Mr Keeling.

“At this stage we’re aiming to inform people about the reserve rather than prosecute them for fishing offences.”

The majority of boaties approached within and around the reserve had launched from the Beachlands, Maraitai and Kawakawa Bay areas, where there are signs about the marine reserve at most boat ramps.

Despite the lack of awareness Mr Keeling said it was encouraging to see some boaties beginning to help spread the message.

“It’s going to take a while to get the information to everyone but now we’re starting to get boaties approaching others in the reserve to let them know. This sort of local support will make all the difference.”

Te Matuku Marine Reserve protects one of Waiheke’s largest and least modified estuaries and includes an area directly outside the bay around Passage Rock in the Waiheke Channel. It came into force in August last year.

Boundary markers are located at the edges of Whites Bay and Otakawhe Bay on Waiheke, on a buoy south-west of Passage Rock and on Kauri Point on Ponui Island. Boundaries can be viewed on the DOC website (www.doc.govt.nz) or on the Permanent Notices to Mariners affecting Chart NZ 5324 on the Land Information NZ website (www.linz.govt.nz).

All marine life, including fish and shellfish, are protected in the marine reserve. Penalties for fishing offences are up to $10,000 or three months imprisonment or both. Boats and fishing equipment can also be forfeited.

ENDS

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