As thousands of New Zealanders prepare for summer holidays, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has proactively released a list of enforcement action data and illegal incidents. This is to remind the public to follow the rules when enjoying recreation on public conservation land and in marine and coastal environments.
DOC’s Senior Manager Regulatory Assurance John Wallwork says DOC places emphasis on its enforcement responsibilities, to ensure all New Zealanders can safely enjoy recreation in conservation areas.
“Part of DOC’s work is ensuring people enjoying Aotearoa’s native species and conservation spaces comply with rules to help protect them, and in a way that’s fair for everyone,” he says.
“When people don’t follow the rules, it poses a risk to our native places and species and puts these taonga at risk.
“It can also impact other people trying to enjoy their holiday outdoors.”
Illegal activity in New Zealand’s marine reserves spikes over summer – when many people are enjoying boating and other water-based recreation.
Marine reserve offences account for 40% of infringements issued by DOC.
The most common offence in marine reserves is fishing, including the taking of kina and shellfish. Other offences include dumping rubbish in marine reserves or removing material such as sand, shingle or seaweed.
Fishing and sports fishing offences, largely at the Taupō Trout Fishery, rank second and make up 10% of all infringements issued. The Taupō Trout Fishery is the largest of its kind in the country.
The third most common type of offending relates to people taking dogs into national parks or failing to comply with a dog permit. These breaches of the dog control laws in the National Parks Act account for just under 5% of infringements issued.
Following close behind this are a range of offences under the Reserves Act. These include damage to a reserve, erecting structures, or having vehicles or firearms in a reserve.
For both national parks and reserves, DOC discourages people from DIY projects such as cutting their own mountain bike tracks or building hunting bivvies.
“We know Kiwis are great at DIY, but national parks and reserves are inappropriate places to show off your skills.
“While you’re out and about this summer, play your part by treating conservation areas, and our native plant and animal species, with respect,” John says.
“Follow the rules and report any illegal activity. Those breaking conservation laws could face an infringement, a fine or a prosecution.”