Pāua poaching poses serious threat to Kaikoura reserve

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is expressing concern that poaching of pāua from the Hikurangi Marina Reserve could wipe out years of conservation efforts.

DOC senior marine biodiversity ranger Dr Jody Weir says that the Marine reserve which stretches 1.6km is a restricted area and is disappointed that people continue to take kai from it.

“Hikurangi Marine Reserve remains a strict no-take area,” says Weir.

“People cannot remove or disturb any marine life within the reserve or take any other material like shells from the beach, water, or seabed. It’s really worrying to see the number of people trying to gather from the protected area.” 

Located 10 km south of Kaikōura, the Hikurangi Marine Reserve has been invaluable in protecting the region’s marine biodiversity since it was established in 2014, with pāua, kina, and rock lobster being the most well-known macroinvertebrates inhabiting the reefs.

Weir says that despite multiple signs posted all throughout the area, people are still genuinely surprised that they aren’t allowed to take from the reserve.

“Regardless of intention, these actions may damage the reserve beyond repair, and we all need to pull together before this becomes a biodiversity catastrophe we can’t come back from,” concludes Weir.

Penalties for taking marine life from a marine reserve include on the spot infringement fines of up to $600, as well up to three months in prison, forfeiture of boats and fishing equipment, and fines of up to $10,000.