One person has been found in breach of Waiheke’s rāhui.
The ban, announced by Ngāti Pāoa, and legalised by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 1 December, protects four species of kaimoana one nautical mile around the island.
Soon after the rāhui was approved by the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, officers on sea patrol found an offender in possession of undersize and excess pāua.
These kinds of infringements carry fines of between $250 and $500, while more serious offending can attract a maximum fine of $100,000 and may include seizure and forfeiture of property used in the offending, according to the national manager of fisheries compliance, Niamh Murphy.
Murphy says fishery officers carry out regular weekly sea patrols in the Hauraki Gulf, focusing on high-visibility monitoring, education and inspection.
These patrols encompass the temporary closure area around Waiheke.
In addition, an honorary fishery officer is also based on the island, focusing on compliance and education regarding the rāhui and other fishing activities.
Meanwhile, Murphy says signage alerting people to the rāhui has been delayed due to Covid-19.
“Fisheries New Zealand is in the process of developing signage with local iwi. A notification of the closure is also included in the New Zealand Fishing Rules application and was publicised through MPI’s social media channels.”
Hauraki Gulf Forum co-chairperson and member of the Waiheke Marine Project Herearoha Skipper of Ngāti Pāoa says there is great urgency when it comes to marine protections in the Gulf. • Sophie Boladeras