Department of Conservation cracks down on fish poaching

Over the next few weeks, there will be hundreds of boaties up and down the country heading out to catch their dinner.

Many however are being caught illegally poaching fish from inside protected marine reserves set up to preserve the environment.

But there is a front-line response team trying to stop them - Department of Conservation (DoC) rangers patrolling some of the most protected waters in New Zealand.

On Monday, they're out on a mission to safeguard marine life and educate boaties on Canterbury's Akaroa Harbour.

More than 30 different fish marine species call the waters on the Banks Peninsula home. Laws prohibit any kind of fishing inside the two marine reserves in the area, which cover hundreds of hectares.

But DoC survey found only forty percent of fishermen in the area could correctly identify the boundary of the two reserves.

"We can't believe that people would continue to risk what is a lifelong criminal prosecution for really just the sake of taking a few minutes to learn the rules and regulations," says DoC Marine and Biodiversity ranger Tom MacTavish.

Last year 13 people were convicted in the area for poaching. Already this summer five people are being investigated for allegedly poaching inside a marine reserve off Banks Peninsula. Anyone convicted faces a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to three months in prison.

DoC's patrolling is supported by most of the public.

"It's for the rest of the people to enjoy, generations, these kids, for everybody to enjoy. The marine reserve is helping the fish come back," says recreational fisherman Daaron Reynolds.

DoC, protecting the waters and making sure there's something for the table next Christmas.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: