Evening boat patrol at Kapiti Marine Reserve
Image: Leon Berard | Creative Commons

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


A new marine reserve ranger has increased efforts to stop illegal fishing inside Kapiti Marine Reserve and thanks locals for their contribution.

Date:  27 March 2023

A new marine reserve ranger has increased efforts to stop illegal fishing inside Kapiti Marine Reserve, and thanks locals for the contribution they make to educating local and visiting boat owners who stray into the reserve.

Since starting in the role late last year, Tony Milner and two other warranted officers have issued seven infringement notices for fishing inside the reserve, four formal warnings, seized an unmarked set line, and offered guidance to 40 vessels about the reserve.

On some particularly fine days in January, there were more than 100 boats fishing or around the island. Happily, almost all were complying with the marine reserve rules, with many of the non-compliant boaties being either new to boating or new to the Kapiti area.

Tony says that DOC deeply appreciates the support of local boaties who want the marine reserve to be respected.

“Most boaties are well-meaning people who observe the rules, some strayed unwittingly into the reserve and were happy to move when approached, and some still didn’t know there was a marine reserve,” says Tony.

“Kapiti Marine Reserve is achieving its purpose in protecting marine life and providing for regeneration of fish and shellfish stocks,” says Tony. “We are always working on ways to improve education and find more effective means to reinforce the value of the marine reserve and its rules.”

He says for those who deliberately fish illegally, surveillance and reporting measures are making it harder to get away with it and can lead to prosecution with hefty fines.

Under the Marine Reserves Act, penalties for taking marine life from a marine reserve include up to three months in prison, fines up to $10,000, and possible forfeiture of boats and fishing equipment.

Anyone who spots suspicious activity in a marine reserve, including the removal of fish or shellfish, should call the 24-hour DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Background information

Located off the coast of the Wellington/Kapiti region Kapiti Marine Reserve is popular for its abundant sea life including blue moki, kingfish, seals, and dolphins. It's also home for some top dive spots include the Hole-in-the-Wall underwater archway.

If you visit the reserve, please remember:

  • No fishing of any kind.
  • Don't take or kill marine life.
  • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials.
  • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour.
  • Take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the sea floor.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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