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Illegal activity expected to rise

The Department of Conservation [DoC] is urging common sense and respect ahead of an expected spike in illegal activity at holiday spots this summer.

DoC recorded more than 700 instances of illegal activity from September 2020 in its top six recreation offences.

At least two offences were recorded in Wairarapa for contravening the Conservation Act, one of which was recommended prosecution.

DoC data revealed the most common type of legislative offence came under the Marine Reserves Act 1971, which accounted for 375 offences over the past two years – 27 per cent of total offences.

Sports fishing offences and dog control offences under the Conservation and National Parks Acts followed with 126 and 79 incidents, respectively.

The department has also issued more than 300 infringement notices, 205 of which were for illegal activity around New Zealand’s marine reserves.

DoC issued 52 infringement notices for fishing and sport fishing offences and 24 notices for dogs found in national parks.

It said a range of other offences under the Reserves Act followed including damaging reserves, erecting structures or having vehicles or firearms in a reserve.

Senior manager regulatory assurance John Wallwork said DoC took its enforcement responsibilities seriously.

“When people don’t follow the rules, it poses a risk to our native place and species and puts these taonga at risk.”

He said illegal activity in marine reserves typically spiked over the summer, with more people taking part in water-based recreation activities.

DoC said the most common offence in marine reserves is fishing, including the taking of kina and shellfish.

“Other offences include dumping rubbish in marine reserves of removing material such as sand, shingle or seaweed.”

It said it discouraged people from ‘do-it-yourself’ activities such as cutting 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,” Wallwork said.

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

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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