Introduction

As more people visit the Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve, a problem is emerging that can cause serious issues for the health of the fish, and for swimmers and snorkelers.

Date:  20 March 2012

Public are asked not to feed fish in marine reserves.
Public are asked not to feed fish in marine reserves

Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve is a great place to see fish in the marine environment. Although summer is coming to a close, people are still visiting the reserve, some in boats and some hardened souls snorkelling even as the water turns colder.

Snapper in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve.
Snapper in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve

As more people visit the reserve a problem is emerging that can cause serious issues for the health of the fish, and for swimmers and snorkelers. Feeding the fish is not a permitted activity in the Marine Reserve. It may seem like a harmless act but feeding fish bread, bait, peas, etc. can damage their health and change their behaviour.

‘At Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve the fish are already associating boats and snorkelers with food and it is only a matter of time before someone gets bitten,’ said Andy Wills, marine ranger for the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Feeding the fish has also been a real problem up at the Leigh Marine Reserve. Feeding the fish has altered their behaviour as they start associating boats and snorkelers with food. This has resulted in a number of people being bitten by big snapper. One woman even had an earring and lobe bitten by a big snapper.

‘While I am out on my patrols I take every opportunity to tell people not to feed the fish and the reasons why. Signage telling people not to feed the fish will be installed in the coming months,’ said Ranger Wills.

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