Boaties asked to help safeguard island sanctuaries

  • Sandra Lee

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has reminded boaties and fishers to take care around predator-free islands this summer. "Predator-free islands around New Zealand provide vital sanctuary to some of our most endangered plant and animal species," Ms Lee said. She said kiwi, kakapo, kokako, tuatara and lizards were amongst our "icon" species that found refuge on predator-free islands.

“Keeping these islands as safe havens for our endangered wildlife requires good community cooperation, " Ms Lee said. She said that boaties should respect access restrictions in place where islands were closed to the public. Key islands closed to public access include Little Barrier Island (Hauraki Gulf), Kapiti and Stephens Islands (Cook Strait), Maud Island (Marlborough Sounds), and Codfish Island (Foveaux Strait). "On islands which are open to the public, boaties should take care when landing that they do not inadvertently bring rats, mice, or weed species on to the islands," Ms Lee said.

She also asked people to take particular note of fire restrictions. The Conservation Minister said many DOC-managed islands had fire restrictions in place, which meant no fires could be lit on beaches or for barbecues. "Boaties should also leave their pet cats and dogs at home, or leave them on board their boats when visiting islands with conservation value," Ms Lee said.

The Department of Conservation manages or has an interest in about 220 islands throughout New Zealand, as well as many small islets and rock stacks. These include the Poor Knights Group (Northland), the Mercury Islands (Coromandel), Little Barrier and numerous other Hauraki Gulf Islands, Mana, Kapiti and Stephens Islands (Cook Strait), Maud, Long and Motuara Islands (Marlborough Sounds), and Codfish Island (Foveaux Strait).

Ms Lee said boaties and fishers could get more information on what islands were appropriate for public visits from local DOC offices throughout the country.