Anglers busted catching snapper in Goat Island marine reserve north of Auckland

Two “very sorry” fishermen have been caught reeling in snapper at New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve.

On Saturday afternoon the pair were spotted fishing from the shore at Cape Rodney-Okakari Point (Goat Island) Marine Reserve, near Leigh, about an hour north of Auckland.

The marine reserve was New Zealand’s first and was established in 1975.

It has made the area a bit of a tourism hotspot, with about 300,000 visitors taking to the crystal clear waters each year, widely known for its giant snapper and other prolific species left to flourish free from human predation.

By the time the pair were spotted they had reeled in two snapper. One was returned to the water alive while the other had died.

A person who came across the fishers said they appeared to not realise it was a marine reserve and were “very sorry”.

“Unbelievable that after 45 years of marine protection some people say they didn’t know what a marine reserve was.”

Their fishing gear and the dead fish was confiscated and photos provided to the Department of Conservation.

DoC operations manager Kirsty Prior said Local Honorary Warranted Officers (HWO) were on hand to attend the incident in the first instance.

These officers are selected and trained locals who volunteer their time to support conservation and keep our marine reserves protected, Prior said.

The officers attended the incident quickly before a DoC ranger arrived to collect statements and evidence as part of an incident investigation.

“The incident is still under investigation we cannot comment further while it is still under investigation,” Prior said.

“Potential outcomes could include an infringement fine or prosecution.”

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