Fish caught in set net
Image: DOC

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


DOC is investigating after a 120-metre long fishing net was found in Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve on 2 February by a DOC ranger.

Date:  16 February 2021

DOC’s Auckland Operations Manager Kirsty Prior says DOC takes these offences very seriously.

“There are no excuses for setting nets in a marine reserve, with those caught facing criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty for fishing in a marine reserve is a $10,000 fine or three months in jail,” she says.

The net was attached by a milk bottle float and anchor at one end and tied to a mangrove tree on the shoreline. It had caught an extensive variety of marine life including a pied shag, juvenile hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, and dozens of other fish – some of which fell back into the sea when the net was hauled in.

The Motu Manawa-Pollen Island Marine Reserve protects 500 hectares of the inner reaches of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. 

Kirsty Prior says “This marine reserve includes intertidal mudflats, tidal channels, mangrove swamp, saltmarsh and shellbanks. Auckland’s marine reserves are very special places and it’s up to all of us to look after them for future generations.”

DOC is encouraging anyone who knows anything about this illegal net to come forward. Any information received will be kept anonymous. Anyone who has seen people breaking conservation rules, such as fishing in a marine reserve or putting marine wildlife at risk should report the behaviour with as much information as possible to 0800 DOC HOT.

In the Auckland region, marine reserves are located at Cape Rodney-Okakari Point (Goat Island), Tāwharanui, Long Bay-Okura, Te Matuku (Waiheke), and Motu Manawa-Pollen Island. All marine reserves are no take reserves.

Auckland is at Covid-19 Alert Level 3. Stay home to avoid any risk of spread. Travel only within your local area and undertake low risk activities. Boating, jet skiing, yachting and scuba diving are not allowed.

Background Information

Marine reserves are the highest level of marine protection established under the Marine Reserves Act 1971. The main aim of marine reserves is to create areas as true to natural marine habitats and life. This means it is an offence to touch or take anything from a marine reserve.

Every marine reserve in Aotearoa/New Zealand is unique in its features and rich in biodiversity. The natural undisturbed state of these areas also sees the reserves being desirable spots for recreational activities including swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, exploring rock pools and walking.

To identify marine reserve boundaries – find the markers, read the signs and use the MarineMate app. Reserve locations can also be found on Auckland marine reserves (PDF, 839K)


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