The beach at Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve
Image: Laura Honey | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Two people have been caught poaching within the Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve.

Date:  12 December 2022

Two people have been apprehended after being found in possession of illegally caught seafood in a joint agency effort to prevent poaching within the Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve in Gisborne last week.

Three government agencies – DOC, Ministry for Primary Industries, and New Zealand Police – have combined resources to address the ongoing poaching problem and are working together to monitor activity within the reserve.

East Coast Police rural staff initially discovered the poaching after spotting suspicious activity in the Te Tapuwae O Rongokako Marine Reserve in November.

Steve Taylor, DOC’s Director Office of Regulatory Services, says DOC is following strong lines of enquiry on this issue. 

“At about midnight on 8 November 2022, a police dog was used to track and locate 45 live spiny red rock lobsters stashed in the bush. Fishery officers believe these rock lobsters were hidden in this way for the poachers to return and collect later,” says Steve Taylor.

Under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 it is illegal to take any marine life from a marine reserve and offending in this way can be punishable by up to three months imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offending.

“We joined forces and this week caught two people at the marine reserve in possession of a quantity of crayfish and kina,” says MPI Regional Manager of Fisheries Compliance, Adam Plumstead. “Our job is to protect fishing resources and there is no excuse for fishing in a marine reserve.”

The crayfish were seized and returned alive into the marine reserve.

The matter has been passed to the DOC compliance team for further investigation.

People are encouraged to report suspicious activity on marine reserves to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468), and suspected poaching activity through the MPI’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).


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