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Take care of Auckland’s marine reserves in summer

10 December 2007

Help take care of Auckland’s marine reserves this summer

Visitors to Auckland’s marine reserves are urged to enjoy these special places this summer and to help take care of them by not taking or disturbing the marine life that lives there.

This month the Department of Conservation starts its annual summer programme to educate people visiting Auckland’s three marine reserves – Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve, Te Matuku Marine Reserve at the south-east end of Waiheke Island and Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve in the Waitemata Harbour.

These reserves provide an opportunity for people to experience and observe relatively undisturbed marine environments, where all marine life is protected and species are left to grow and interact naturally.

DOC marine ranger Karl McLeod said DOC wanted to remind people of the rules as they headed out to recreate on the beaches and in the water at marine reserves.

“We encourage people to picnic, swim, kayak, dive, snorkel and go boating in marine reserves, but want to remind them that all marine life is protected and it is illegal to take anything from within the reserve area.”

Mr McLeod said that while most people visiting marine reserves abided by the rules, a small number continued to offend by taking shellfish or fishing illegally. In doing so they risked having their boats and fishing gear seized, and being fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for three months.

Of the 800,000 people that visited Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve each year, for example, a few would spoil it for the rest by taking marine life from the protected area, he said.

“They are either not getting the message or don’t care, and are taking from the rest of us.”

Just two months ago a man was convicted and fined for illegally fishing in Goat Island marine reserve near Leigh.

The three marine reserves in Auckland and North Shore cities are popular places for people to recreate and enjoy nature and wildlife. Community groups, schools and marine organisations help to care for these reserves through education, monitoring, surveillance and beach cleanups. These include the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MERC) and Northcross School at Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve, Western Underwater Research and Pollen Island Care Group at Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve, and the Hauraki Branch of Forest and Bird and Te Huruhi School at Te Matuku Marine Reserve.

DOC encourages the public to call its 24-hour DOC hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) if they see someone illegally fishing or harvesting in a marine reserve. See www.doc.govt.nz for more information about marine reserves, including boundaries.

Further information:

The Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve protects a stretch of coastline on the east coast just north of Auckland city. It is moderately sheltered, and largely formed of Waitemata sandstones and mudstones. Formally established in 1995, the marine reserve includes a variety of coastal habitats: sandy beaches, rocky reefs, estuarine mudflats and mangroves.

Te Matuku Marine Reserve, established in 2005, protects one of Waiheke Island's largest and least disturbed estuaries and an area outside Te Matuku Bay in the Waiheke Channel. Te Matuku Bay has many special features and protected areas on land links native bush with coastal wetlands to the sea. It's one of the few intact estuarine systems like this left in northern New Zealand.

Motu Manawa (Pollen Island) Marine Reserve, established in 1995, is an area of saltmarsh and mangroves between Te Atatu and Point Chevalier beside the North-Western Motorway. It is considered to be one of the best remnants of native coastal vegetation around the Waitemata Harbour. It is the closest marine reserve to Auckland city and is unique in that it has a motorway running through it.

ENDS

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