Which Marine Reserves Can You Fish At?


Although many love the idea of visiting a Marine Reserve to enjoy the surrounding habitat, some boaters may also want to fish. As the Marine Reserves are protected by the Department of Conservation (DOC), it is not possible to fish at any of them. However, there are some you can fish around, by paying close attention to the boundaries and strict fishing rules.

Goat Island

Although boaters heading to Goat Island face penalties for getting their fishing rods out while there, you can fish just outside the boundaries. If you choose to fish outside the boundaries of Goat Island before heading there, do bear in mind that you cannot discharge anything into the water once you enter the boundaries. In many cases, even having your rod assembled and on show can attract a fine while within the island’s boundary limits.

Kapiti Marine Reserve

Many of the waters surrounding Kapiti Marine Reserve are not under DOC protection. Therefore, they are open to fishing. Conveniently, many of these waters are close to popular recreational areas. If you head to Paraparaumu Beach, you can fish while protecting yourself from the winds. When visiting Kapiti Marine Reserve, pay close attention to what you fish for in certain locations. When you head to Waikanae River, you can only go whitebaiting. Learn about Kapiti Marine Reserve’s boundaries before you go there. The DOC’s officers are particularly active in this area.

Tawharanui Marine Reserve

Tawharanui Marine Reserve is one of the few reserves that allows you to enter the boundaries after fishing outside it. Like other reserves, it is a good idea to keep your fishing rods out of sight once you’re within the boundaries. In addition, you cannot discharge anything into the water.

Mayor Island Marine Reserve

As well as prohibiting fishing within the Mayor Island Marine Reserve boundaries, the DOC also states that you cannot fish within one nautical mile of them. After that point, fishing activities are legal. If you do want to take your boat within the boundaries, you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking in the waters instead.

Observing Fishing Rules at the Marine Reserves

Opportunities for fishing around the marine reserves are rare. Therefore, if you do choose to fish in the areas around them, you need to observe certain rules. Paying attention to these rules avoid fines, as well as criminal prosecution. They include:

  • No netting: When the DOC states that you cannot fish, it also means you cannot net. The DOC’s reasoning for prohibiting fishing is based on the fact that removing wildlife from the reserves for non-research purposes disrupts the natural habitat. Therefore, you cannot take fish in any way.
  • Look out for buoys: This will vary between reserves, but many have clear yellow buoys that indicate the boundary lines.
  • Check out boundary maps: It is better to rely on your navigational skills and boundary maps than buoys. Wherever possible, pick one up from the DOC website and pay attention to the boundaries.
  • Keep rods and spears out of view: The DOC’s patrol forces have no reason to believe that you don’t intend to fish if your rods are out on your boat. Keep all fishing gear hidden away, especially if you have just fished outside the boundaries.

As you can see, it is perfectly possible to fish in the areas just outside the Marine Reserves, while helping to protect them.

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