All boaties in the Bay of Islands must observe new restrictions around marine mammals, or risk a hefty fine, effective this summer (15th December 2021).
In mid-November after a period of public consultation, the Minister of Conservation declared the Te Pēwhairangi (Bay of Islands) Marine Mammal Sanctuary under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. This also has the consent of the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, and the Minister of Energy and Resources.
The Sanctuary introduces three key restrictions to the common marine area in the Bay of Islands /Te Pēwhairangito address the high levels of vessel and human interaction with marine mammals.
The declared Sanctuary builds on existing regulations under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 and includes several changes to the proposal which was notified earlier this year, following assessment of issues raised through the public consultation process.
The feedback from this public consultation means the sanctuary proposal was amended to meet key useability challenges, whilst still protecting the marine mammals who visit the Bay. The Sanctuary has been co-designed with a rōpu of local hapū representatives, and DOC will co-manage the Sanctuary alongside this rōpu.
Offenders may be liable for ‘instant fines’ of up to $800 with more serious offending attracting maximum punishments of fines up to $100,000 and two years imprisonment.
The marine mammal safe zones have been established as they are areas which have an existing high level of vessel and marine mammal interactions; they encompass diverse habitats that allow for a range of behaviours by marine mammals; they are already ‘no interaction’ zones for permitted operators; and they are important areas to mana whenua. Safe zones will be marked with buoys, and their boundaries and maps can be found on signage at boat ramps and marinas, as well as on the DOC website.
For information regarding the Sanctuary click here.