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Tawharanui Marine Park was established in 1981. The marine park enjoyed no take protection for 20 years under the fisheries act. After a successful application by the Auckland Regional Council, Tawharanui was established as a fully protected marine reserve in September, 2011.
The 400 ha of fully protected marine reserve has small areas of marine park adjacent, within the boundaries of the former marine park. Special fisheries rules disallow taking of marine life out to half a nautical mile from the coast.
In the years since the no take marine park was established studies have indicated an increase in snapper numbers, decline in kina numbers and an increase in macroalgal biomass and productivity following the establishment of the marine park. The crayfish population has been described as near natural abundance.
An ongoing monitoring programme of Crayfish numbers at the fully protected Tawharanui marine park and outside the marine park has been carried out since the 1970's, showing a 600% increase between 1970's and 2000's.
Tawharanui Marine Reserve is adjacent to an outstanding land based reserve managed by Auckland Regional Council.