DOC: We’re trying to stop cars crossing into Reserve from Waikanae beach
DOC has replied to KIN’s questions about the lack of action to stop vehicles illegally crossing its Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve (see our story on Feb 26, ‘Waikanae Beach Problems Continue’).
DOC’s Kapiti and Wellington Operations Manager, Jack Mace, says: “The Department of Conservation is working with Kapiti Coast District Council to address the complex issue of vehicles illegally accessing the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve.
“Unfortunately, the beach access points – at the Waikanae and Kapiti Boating clubs, and other road ends, are outside the reserve and therefore outside the Department’s control.”
He says vehicles are breaching council bylaws by travelling along the beach into the Scientific Reserve. Under the Coastal Policy Statement and the Scientific Reserves bylaw, that is illegal. It can damage shellfish beds, endanger wildlife such as nesting birds and, of course, people.
Rangers not able to patrol actively
Our rangers don’t have the capacity to actively patrol the beach for vehicles straying into the Scientific Reserve.
Rangers working in the area on whitebait patrol or restoration jobs keep an eye out for unauthorised vehicles. This can be as often as daily during August to November.
There is currently a bill before Parliament which will allow DOC rangers to issue fines on the spot rather than go through the lengthy prosecution process for minor offences such as this.
DOC working with Police and KCDC
We will continue to support KCDC and NZ Police to find a workable solution.
Mr Stace also points out that access to the land side of the Scientific Reserve via residential streets is not an issue.
He says:”It is in very low numbers, usually for permitted whitebaiting activity. We know who the people are and they have DOC’s express permission.”