Monday, July 15, 2024

DOC releases conservation offences hit list

Misbehaviour in marine reserves, breaches of the National Parks Act and people failing to abide by the Taupō Trout Fishery rules feature prominently among the Department of Conservation’s top conservation offences recorded this year.

As thousands of New Zealanders prepare for summer holidays, DOC has proactively released a list of enforcement action data and illegal incidents 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 the Department 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.”

He said 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 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 National Parks Act dog control laws 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,” said Mr Wallwork.

“While you’re out and about this summer, play your part by treating conservation areas, and our native plant and animal species, with respect.”

“Follow the rules and report any illegal activity. Those breaking conservation laws could face an infringement, a fine or a prosecution,” he said.

Top six recreation offences – September 2020 to December 2022

Legislation by type of offenceCountPercentage of total offences
Marine Reserves Act 1971: All offences37527.16
Conservation Act 1987: Sports fishing offences1269.14
National Parks Act 1980: Dog control offences795.7
Reserves Act 1977: Unauthorised actions674.85
National Parks Act 1980: Unauthorised actions382.75
Wildlife Act 1953: Hunting or possessing wildlife332.39

The top five recreation offence areas receiving infringement notices – September 2020 to November 2022

Infringement noticesNo.Percentage of total infringements
Marine reserves20540.80%
Fishing and sports fishing5210.36%
Dogs in national parks244.78%
Conservation Act generic112.19%
Reserve Act generic112.19%

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