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Introduction

Those breaking the conservation laws that protect natural places and native species may face fines as DOC's new enforcement system rolls out.

Date:  09 September 2020

DOC can issue infringement notices to people breaking rules on conservation land, in marine reserves and in relation to protected species. Infringement notices with an associated fine are a new tool under the Conservation (Infringement Systems) Act 2018, along with the existing tools of prosecution and warning letters.

“We have a responsibility to take action and give nature a helping hand to support the health of our natural places and the species that live there,” says DOC Director-General Lou Sanson.

“The laws in place protect New Zealand’s precious places, flora and fauna – not just to help secure the future of our unique ecosystems, but to ensure New Zealanders now and in the future can enjoy them.

“Previously the law has only allowed DOC to issue a warning or prosecute. Fines send a stronger message than a warning, reinforcing that illegal take, use or damage is unacceptable.

“The enforcement system for managing infringement notices will allow DOC to build up a picture of which rules are being broken where, identify repeat offenders, and focus our time in areas where it’s most needed.”

Infringement notices can be issued for a range of offences, including whitebaiting using illegal gear or methods, fishing in marine reserves, taking or causing damage to protected species, taking dogs into national parks or taking plants out of them.

Fines will not be issued on the spot. Warranted Officers will investigate alleged offences and, if an infringement notice is appropriate, issue the notice afterward. 

The enforcement system is being piloted in five areas across the country this month and will roll out nationally in October and November. The pilot areas are Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Taupo, Motueka, Mahaanui and Westport.  

DOC National Compliance Manager Marta Lang Silveira says, “A key part of DOC’s work is ensuring people comply with laws and regulations that help protect our special places, and the plants, animals and taonga of New Zealand. Infringement notices will help us do this.

“Infringement notices can deal with many breaches of the rules that are not serious enough for prosecution. Infringements fines range from $200 to $800, depending on the offence. Our approach is to look at the seriousness and circumstances of the offending in a specific case, to guide which enforcement tool is used. Serious offences and repeat offenders still face prosecution.

“DOC will be increasing capacity and capability to respond to illegal activity in our forests, waterways and backcountry over the coming year. DOC has funding to bring in dedicated Compliance Officers, as well as 13 new marine reserve compliance and biodiversity monitoring rangers over the next two years,” Marta Lang Silveira adds.

Details about infringement notices, including what kinds of fines can be issued, are available on this website: DOC's enforcement tools.

Anyone with questions about the rules on public conservation land, water or in relation to native species should visit this website or contact their local DOC office.

Anyone who encounters someone putting native species or conservation areas at risk or breaking conservation laws should report this to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468), DOC’s 24-hour hotline.

Background information

About the Infringement System Act

Infringement System legislation was enacted in 2018, and in December 2019 regulations were passed. DOC now has the systems in place to start issuing infringement notices.

The 2018 Act gave DOC the ability to issue infringement fines under eight conversation laws:

  • the Conservation Act 1987,
  • the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978,
  • the Marine Reserves Act 1971,
  • the National Parks Act 1980,
  • the Reserves Act 1977,
  • the Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989,
  • the Wild Animal Control Act 1977,
  • and the Wildlife Act 1953.

Infringement notices

A conservation infringement notice is one of DOC’s enforcement tools. It alleges that an offence has been committed under conservation legislation. It requires payment of a fine. Infringement notices are a new enforcement tool under the Conservation (Infringement Systems) Act 2018.

Infringement notices can deal with many breaches of the rules that may not be serious enough for prosecution in the circumstances. Infringement offences can’t result in a criminal record, however DOC keeps a record of fines and warnings issued and they are considered if there is future non-compliance.

Infringement offences and fine amounts are set by law. DOC can issue fines ranging from $200-$800 depending on the offence. Information about fines for specific offences can be found online in the Conservation (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2019.

An infringement notice is not an on-the-spot fine. An infringement notice is a requirement to pay an infringement fine within a designated time-period.

Some examples where people may receive an infringement fine could be:

  • white baiting using illegal gear or methods
  • accidental recreational fishing just inside a marine reserve
  • accidentally killing a common native bird
  • using drones where prohibited
  • unauthorised commercial guiding
  • taking dogs into controlled areas such as national parks
  • taking sports fish without a licence
  • camping in prohibited areas.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Phone: +64 4 496 1911
Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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