Volunteers help protect marine reserve

Department of Conservation —  13/04/2015

A group of volunteers worked with DOC staff to patrol Taputeranga Marine Reserve this summer, enforcing reserve restrictions and promoting conservation awareness. DOC ranger, Matt Barnett, tells us more… 

Coast Watch volunteers looking out to sea. Taputeranga Marine Reserve.

Coast Watch volunteers

Taputeranga Marine Reserve is one of New Zealand’s most accessible marine reserves—just a short drive from Wellington City, with houses overlooking most of its length.

Taputeranga Marine Reserve, Island Bay.

Taputeranga Marine Reserve, Island Bay

Visitors to the Island Bay snorkel trail often comment on the rich variety and abundance of marine life in the reserve compared to other regional snorkelling spots.

Snorkelers enjoying Taputeranga Marine Reserve.

Snorkelers enjoying Taputeranga Marine Reserve

Since last December, a community Coast Watch group has been working closely with us to patrol the reserve, which is also one of New Zealand’s nine Coastal Gems.

The Taputeranga Coast Watch was developed by the Friends of Taputeranga, together with DOC, to complement the work of our standby officers and Marine Ranger, Dave Wrightson.

Marine Ranger Dave Wrightson talking about the marine reserve with three small children.

Marine Ranger, Dave Wrightson in action

The Coast Watch group currently has 20 volunteers. Clearly identified by their Coast Watch shirts, they walk the beaches and reefs on weekends and weekdays, encouraging visitors to enjoy the reserve while explaining the ‘no-take’ restrictions. (All marine life within the reserve is protected, and disturbing or harming marine life—including fishing or removal of plant or animal life—is strictly prohibited.)

Common dolphin pod in Taputeranga.

Common dolphin pod, Taputeranga Marine Reserve

“While the summer sunshine has attracted thousands of families and individuals to the shores of the Taputeranga Marine Reserve, compliance patrols and Coast Watch activities have kept pace,” says Murray Hosking, Chair of the Friends of the Marine Reserve Trust and organiser of Coast Watch.

Taputeranga seahorse. Photo: Rob Marshall.

Taputeranga seahorse

DOC’s Dave Wrightson has provided ‘billboard’ visibility with the DOC boat and vehicle, and our 24/7 standby operations have been bolstered by three local residents on-call and able to report on infringements quickly.

Murray says that feedback from the public, about the reserve and its value to the region over the summer, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“There’s been an obvious increase in DOC patrols and people have commented on Dave’s excellent approach with members of the public when providing advice about respecting the reserve and its regulations.”

And the message from locals and domestic and overseas visitors is clear—people love marine reserves and applaud the work of DOC and the Friends of Taputeranga in looking after our marine protected areas.

If you live on Wellington’s South Coast and want to get involved in Taputeranga Coast Watch email: enquiries@taputeranga.org.nz.