More high-tech webcams will be deployed to monitor the Kāpiti Marine Reserve.
At the formal launch of the first webcam last week, the United States Embassy in
Wellington announced it would donate $10,600 to enable a second and a third camera to keep an eye on the reserve.
The webcam initiative has been spearheaded by the Guardians of Kāpiti Marine Reserve (the Guardians) with assistance from the Department of Conservation (DoC).
Guardians chairman Ben Knight said the collaboration, including with the embassy who has funded the initiative, has enabled a cutting-edge tool to be deployed to protect one of New Zealand's largest and oldest marine reserves.
"Kāpiti marine reserve is the hidden jewel in the Kāpiti Island crown and is a nationally significant marine taonga.
"The reserve is host to an incredible array of indigenous marine life and continues to play an important role in rebuilding the heavily depleted fish stocks outside of the protected area through spillover of mature fish and fish larvae.
"It provides important benefits to recreational, commercial and customary fishers.
"It is therefore vitally important that this national treasure is properly protected so that current and future generations can enjoy the benefits it provides.
The webcam project was a scalable, high-tech solution to the age-old problem of illegal fishing, he said.
"We believe it will act as a serious deterrent to poachers and will enable a more targeted approach taken to the compliance and law enforcement effort.
"The webcam also has many other uses including search and rescue, tourism, environmental monitoring and fisheries research."
Mr Knight said during the past six month testing phase, the camera has already been widely used by local boaties and divers to check conditions before they head out for a day on the water.
"It's an awesome multi-tool with many benefits to the local community and the Guardians are proud to have led the development of the project."
Installed at the north end of the island, the camera overlooks the 'Hole in the Rock', a popular site which is hard to view from the mainland or DoC's island base.
DoC's Kāpiti Wellington operations manager Jack Mace said the webcam was "exciting for our rangers as it provides an extremely high-quality picture.
"From DoC's perspective, deterring potential offenders is a far better use of resources than trying to catch them in the act."
Reports of suspected illegal fishing activity in Kāpiti Marine Reserve have been declining after a peak last year.
Mr Mace said this was because of the very good work the Guardians have done in raising the profile of the reserve with locals and in the media.
"Through their passion and technological know-how, members of the Guardians proposed the web camera project to DoC.
"We could see the benefits of this camera and supported it wholeheartedly.
"We are very grateful for the funding opportunity from the United States Embassy."
The United States Deputy Chief of Mission, Susan Niblock, said the embassy welcomed efforts in the Pacific region to enhance information sharing on security and law enforcement concerns to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
"Fisheries are the lifeblood of Pacific island economies and a cornerstone of US-Pacific cooperation.
"I'm proud to celebrate what our embassy's support has been able to accomplish with these wonderful partners, who share our values and recognise the importance of conservation and education when it comes to the environment."