Report on Illegal Fishing Activity in Tawharanui Marine Reserve on New Years Day 2014

On New Years Day 2014 I was on a yacht with nine other people in northern Omaha Bay anchored near the shore when a large orca surfaced near the boat.  The individual was instantly recognizable as Funky Monkey, a large male associated with a pod which frequents this area.

Soon the orca moved off towards the Whangateau Harbour entrance and we followed at a safe distance.  Five other orca joined the large one just inside the entrance and they appeared to be heading further into the harbour where they may have been intending to hunt eaglerays as has happened in the past with the same pod (Orca make lunchtime raid on rays of Whangateau ).

At this point about six runabouts arrived to watch the orca.  The intense boating activity seemed too much for the orca and they soon turned and cruised out through the harbour entrance (Amazing orca encounter for New Year and birthday treat).  One boat in particular was seen to move very close to the orca which protested by tail slapping on the water surface.  This boat had four fishing rods standing up in rod holders (Figure 1)

Figure 1.  This boat was clearly getting too close to the orca in the Ti Point channel.  Note the four fishing rods standing in rod holders.

Figure 1. This boat was clearly getting too close to the orca in the Ti Point channel. Note the four fishing rods standing in rod holders.

The orca moved out of the harbour and headed east. The same runabout continued to follow the pod across Omaha Bay and on several occasions came within less than 5 metres of some individuals in the pod (Figure 2). Soon the runabout moved off towards Tawharanui Marine Reserve and we continued tracking the orca at a safe distance in an easterly direction.

Figure 2.  The same boat continued to go too close to the orca as they travelled across Omaha Bay toward Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Figure 2. The same boat continued to go too close to the orca as they travelled across Omaha Bay toward Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

The orca pod continued eastward through Tawharanui Marine Reserve and we stopped following them off Anchor Bay near the middle of the Marine Reserve. We then noticed the same runabout drifting in the light northerly wind well inside the marine reserve. We approached to within 200 metres and the woman passenger appeared to photograph us with an iPad (Figure 3.) which she had used earlier to photograph the orca. At this point there were no fishing rods visible in the rod holders.

Figure 3.  Drifting toward the shore off Anchor Bay well inside the Tawharanui Marine Reserve, the Asian woman in the boat appeared to take photographs of our yacht with her iPad.

Figure 3. Drifting toward the shore off Anchor Bay well inside the Tawharanui Marine Reserve, the Asian woman in the boat appeared to take photographs of our yacht with her iPad.

A few minutes later we noticed the woman was fishing with a rod over the side (Figures 4 & 5) with the line clearly visible entering the water. This was clearly illegal fishing activity so we approached the boat to warn them that this was a Marine Reserve and fishing was not allowed. Before we could get close enough to communicate the skipper put the boat into gear and cruised slowly out past us where we were able to get a clear picture of the skipper (Figure 6) but were still unable to communicate with them.

Figure 4.  The woman in the boat began fishing off Anchor Bay, well inside the Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Figure 4. The woman in the boat began fishing off Anchor Bay, well inside the Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Figure 5.  In this picture the line is clearly seen in the water, with an open bait packet on the bait board.  There is no doubt the woman is fishing in the marine reserve.

Figure 5. In this picture the line is clearly seen in the water, with an open bait packet on the bait board. There is no doubt the woman is fishing in the marine reserve.

Figure 6. When we approached to warn them this was a marine reserve and fishing was not allowed, the boat drove off past us about 200 metres.

Figure 6. When we approached to warn them this was a marine reserve and fishing was not allowed, the boat drove off past us about 200 metres. Click to enlarge

They moved about 200 metres then stopped and the skipper then started fishing (Figure 7), still clearly within the Marine Reserve. They had apparently launched the boat at Omaha, where there are clear signs notifying the public of the Tawharanui Marine Reserve and its “no fishing” status.

Figure 7.  The boat stopped and drifted again, and the skipper started fishing well inside the marine reserve.

Figure 7. The boat stopped and drifted again, and the skipper started fishing well inside the marine reserve.

We had to move on at that time as it was getting late. Before we got back to Omaha the boat had already returned and had left the ramp carpark so we were unable to get vehicle or trailer registration numbers. Someone must know this boat and particularly the skipper as the photos are very clear. We believe this is an incident of blatant disregard for the fishing prohibition in the Marine Reserve and would welcome an identification of these persons or the boat trailer rego to enable the authorities to follow up this incident. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable and should not be left unchallenged.

We have GPS fixes on the points we observed the illegal fishing activity from showing the fishing was clearly well inside the Marine Reserve (Figure 8). A map of the Tawharanui Marine Reserve with boundary and shore marker details is included as Figure 9.

Figure 8.  Locations of observation spots 1 and 2 from which we observed illegal fishing inshore of those spots.  A point on the Marine Reserve boundary is also indicated.

Figure 8. Locations of observation spots 1 and 2 from which we observed illegal fishing inshore of those spots. A point on the Marine Reserve boundary is also indicated.

Figure 9.  Map of Tawharanui Marine Reserve, showing details of the boundaries and shore markers.

Figure 9. Map of Tawharanui Marine Reserve, showing details of the boundaries and shore markers.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

1 January 2014

5:25 pm Fig. 1. Boat with two occupants approaching too close to orca in the Ti Point channel at the entrance to the Whangateau Harbour. Clearly shows four fishing rods in holders. Pakeha skipper and Asian woman passenger.

5:41 pm Fig. 2. Boat very close to orca in Omaha Bay, with fishing rods still obvious in holders. Woman using iPad to photograph orca.

6:22 pm Fig. 3. Boat drifting in Anchor Bay in Tawharanui Marine Reserve, with woman apparently photographing us with an iPad. Fishing rods have been stowed away out of sight.

6:25 pm Fig. 4. Woman fishing with rod in the Marine Reserve, viewed from Spot 1 in Fig. 8.

6:27 pm Fig. 5. Woman fishing with rod, line clearly in the water, in the Marine Reserve, viewed from Spot 1 in Fig. 8.

6:28 pm Fig. 6 Boat passing us northward. Clear view of skipper. No rods in sight. Open bait packet on bait board.

6:32 pm Fig. 7 Man fishing with rod over the side in the marine reserve. Viewed from Spot 2 in Fig. 8.

Figure 8. Google Earth plot of view spots 1 and 2. The boat fishing was clearly well shoreward of spot 1, and when they moved they were still clearly inshore and east of view spot 2. Plot of outer boundary of Marine Reserve was taken by lining up the two markers at the west end of the Reserve which indicate the line of the northern or outer boundary.

GPS fixes of plots in Fig. 8:

Spot 1 S36deg.21.841’; E174deg.50.489’
Spot 2 S36deg.21.740’; E174deg.50.606’

Boundary S36deg.21.390’; E174deg.50.572’

Distance from boundary to Spot 1 approximately 840 metres
Distance from boundary to Spot 2 approximately 645 metres

Figure 9. Details of the Marine Reserve boundaries and shore markers.

Comments

  1. Hope you find them. What repugnant behaviour.

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