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Leave Only Footprints At The Beach This Summer

Leave Only Your Footprints At The Beach This Summer

Sun, surf and sand – not to mention sunburn, charred sausages and sand in unmentionable places - where would the good old Kiwi summer be without them?

But there are a few environmental dos and don’t you should be aware of to make sure the only impact you have on our fragile coastal environment while having fun in the sun this summer is your footprint in the sand – and maybe a sandcastle or two.

• Don’t litter. Seabirds and marine mammals can get entangled in plastic and other rubbish or ingest it. Rubbish left at the beach can remain in the environment for hundreds of years, so take it home. This includes refraining from dumping rubbish off boats.

• Better still, take part in a community beach clean-up, or pick up rubbish on your favourite beach. You could adopt a beach or estuary and organise regular clean-ups. Keep New Zealand Beautiful (www.knzb.org.nz) can point you in the right direction.

• Get involved in Seaweek (2-9 March 2008). You can find out about Seaweek activities promoting the health of the marine environment in your area by going to www.seaweek.org.nz.

• Know the legal limits for recreational fishing – throw fish back if they are too small. You can find out about legal limits and sizes, and guidelines for line fishing, at the Ministry of Fisheries website (www.fish.govt.nz). By staying within the rules you will help ensure fish populations can breed and are sustainable – and avoid prosecution.

• The best way to protect small fish is not to catch them at all. Use a larger hook and a bigger bait as these are less likely to be swallowed by small fish. Do not keep fishing in an area where most of the fish are small.

• Don’t use set nets. Set nets are a serious threat to a range of marine life, including dolphins, seals, penguins and other seabirds, which are caught in the nets and drown. Use other fishing methods that don’t harm our marine life. For more information on set net-free seas go to www.forestandbird.org.nz

• While you are lazing in the sun at the beach take a moment to let the Government know that you support a nationwide ban on set nets by sending a postcard to Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton at Parliament, Wellington (no stamp required).

• Only catch as many fish as you need to eat – more than a feed is greed! If we plunder the marine environment by over-fishing, fish populations will not be able to breed enough to sustain themselves and will quickly become depleted.

• Leave your vehicle in the car park – or at home. Four-wheel-drive vehicles, cars, quad bikes and dirt bikes do a lot of damage to fragile dune systems and the native plant and animal life that is found there. By walking to your favourite fishing or swimming spot instead, you’ll be helping to preserve it.

• Be especially careful not to disturb birds which make their nests on sandy or stony shores – their nests can be very difficult to see, and are particularly vulnerable to damage from motor vehicles.

• Keep dogs under control in areas where birds may be nesting, and keep them away from marine mammals such as seals.

• Report any suspicious activity such as poaching by phoning the Ministry of Fisheries (0800 4 POACHER) or the Department of Conservation (0800 DOC HOT).

• Get involved with a local coast care group (ask your regional council if there is one in your area), or beach restoration project. Many of Forest & Bird’s branches (see www.forestandbird.org.nz) are involved in replanting of dunes with native species like pingao that look beautiful, protect against coastal erosion and support indigenous animal life.

• If you are out in a boat, take care not to travel too fast or too close near marine mammals such as dolphins and whales – stay at least 50m away from whales and at least 200m from mothers and calves. Don’t travel faster than idle speed within 300m of any marine mammal. Approach from behind and to the side – don’t obstruct or cut across their path.

• Don’t disturb or harass seals or sea lions hauled up onshore – stay at least 20m away.

• If you see an injured or entangled marine mammal call the Department of Conservation (0800 DOC HOT) immediately.

• Report sightings of southern right whales to the Department of Conservation, which is collecting data on their populations. Call 0800 DOC HOT with the date, time, location and (if possible) photos of the whales.

• If you are swimming don’t approach dolphins – wait till they come to you. Dolphins can get stressed by too much human interaction over summer months. Don’t swim with whales or dolphin pods with young calves.

• Support marine reserves. Marine reserves act like national parks at sea, protecting marine life and allowing it to flourish. Obey no-take requirements in existing marine reserves and support establishment of more reserves. Maori protective measures such as rahui should also be respected.

• Make sure only rain goes down your drain. Waste liquid and other rubbish that is put into storm-water drains ends up in our oceans, where it pollutes the marine environment

• Effluent from recreational boats can contaminate the marine environment – ensure your boat has a sewage system that complies with regulations.

• Ensure your boat’s hull is clean and free of fouling which could spread biosecurity nasties like the marine pest sea squirt. If you notice anything unusual that you think could be a marine pest, note its location, grab a sample and call Biosecurity NZ on 0800 80 99 66. You can find out more about how to help prevent the spread of marine pests at www.biosecurity.govt.nz.

• Teach your children to respect the coast and marine environment – and look after it, so their children can enjoy it too.

ENDS

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