Tonga Island Marine Reserve
Tonga Island Marine Reserve is the third marine reserve to be created alongside a national park. It covers an area of 1835 hectares, extending one nautical mile (1852m) offshore from the mean high water mark of Tonga Island, and the coast between Awaroa Head and the headland separating Bark Bay and Mosquito Bay.
The marine reserve protects all marine life within its boundaries, benefiting not just fish and shellfish, but also animals like seals, penguins and other seabirds that live on the land but feed in the sea.
Human activity has put considerable pressure on the Abel Tasman marine environment, and caused a marked fall in fish numbers. In 1990, studies by the Department of Conservation confirmed the coast's uniqueness and paucity of fish life. When marine reserve options were released for public discussion, strong support for protection emerged. The area finally chosen was the most widely supported one.
Research is undertaken to monitor changes to the marine ecosystem now that fishing has stopped. Please be careful around any scientific equipment on the sea floor.
The Experiencing Marine Reserves programme is active in this region.
Find out more about this reserve on the DoC website, or visit the following links:
NIWA research ' "Crayfish bounce back in Tonga Island marine reserve".
2004 News Article from BiodiversityNZ - "Marine reserves protect the marine environment".