The Department of Conservation warns it will get tough on people tempted to fish inside marine reserves after a man was fined $500 for catching snapper in the Whangārei Harbour Marine Reserve.
Jeremy Adams, aged 40, was convicted in the Whangārei District Court on two offences under the Marine Reserves Act 1971.
Adams appeared in court after fishing in the Whangārei Harbour Marine Reserve and was fined $500. Four seized snapper were also forfeited to the Crown.
Adams was also charged with obstructing a ranger and fined $250.
DoC Whangārei district operations manager Louisa Gritt said people breaching conservation boundaries should expect the full weight of the law.
"The Department of Conservation has a duty of care to protect marine reserves and the safety of DoC staff, and the law gives DoC the right to warn, charge and prosecute people breaching these laws," Gritt said.
"People breaking laws can expect a tougher stance from DoC and we will be working closely with police when needed.
"We encourage members of the public to report any offences as soon as possible to DoC with as much information as possible for follow up by DoC and or the police.
"It is a good reminder heading into summer with lots of boats on the water that the responsibility is on the fisher or boat skipper to know Marine Reserve boundaries, which are well marked on land and sea and on chart plotters. Ignorance is not an excuse for fishing in a marine reserve."
In February 2018, three men were seen fishing in the Whangārei Harbour Marine Reserve.
A DoC ranger witnessed the fishing and spoke to the men before they became aggressive and threatening.
Marine Reserves are areas of the ocean and the adjacent beach areas where all marine life is fully protected and is an absolutely no take area for marine life, including animals and plants.
The Marine Reserves Act 1971 provides for the protection of representative areas that contain underwater scenery, natural features or marine life of such unique quality, or so typical that their continued preservation is in the national interest. Marine Reserves are administered by DoC and all forms of fishing are prohibited.
Any concerns of fishing in marine reserve should be reported to 0800 362 468.