Date: 18 January 2012
The Department of Conservation has decided not to lay charges against a group of prison inmates on a rehabilitation programme who took seafood from a marine reserve.
DOC has completed its inquiries into the incident involving inmates on a Department of Corrections rehabilitation programme who were directed to dive in the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve by their supervisor.
DOC’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservator Alan McKenzie says the department takes protection of marine reserves very seriously and offenders can face up to three months in prison or fines of $10 000.
“We treat each case on its merits and our investigations have revealed that in this case the leader of the party has made a genuine mistake by directing the group into the reserve.”
“It is clear the members of the party did not deliberately set out to breach the reserve and all the seafood taken was returned.”
The programme provider has formally apologised for the incident and the group involved will be returning to the reserve to help with DOC’s work at the site.
Mr McKenzie says DOC has also agreed to work with Corrections staff to ensure the location and significance of marine reserves is included in future programmes.
Rory Newsam, +64 4 471 3104 or +64 27 295 3809