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Report on illegal fishing activity in Tawharanui Marine Reserve on new years day 2014

REPORT ON ILLEGAL FISHING ACTIVITY IN TAWHARANUI MARINE RESERVE ON NEW YEARS DAY 2014.

By Roger Grace

On New Years Day 2014 I was on a yacht with nine other people in northern Omaha Bay anchored near the shore when a large orca surfaced near the boat.  The individual was instantly recognizable as Funky Monkey, a large male associated with a pod which frequents this area.

Soon the orca moved off towards the Whangateau Harbour entrance and we followed at a safe distance.  Five other orca joined the large one just inside the entrance and they appeared to be heading further into the harbour where they may have been intending to hunt eaglerays as has happened in the past with the same pod (see article “Orca make lunchtime raid on rays of Whangateau” at http://www.whangateauharbour.org, November 7, 2012). 

At this point about six runabouts arrived to watch the orca.  The intense boating activity seemed too much for the orca and they soon turned and cruised out through the harbour entrance (see article “Amazing orca encounter for New Year and birthday treat” at http://www.whangateauharbour.org, January 1, 2014).

One boat in particular was seen to move very close to the orca which protested by tail slapping on the water surface.  This boat had four fishing rods standing up in rod holders (Figure 1).

 

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Figure 1.  This boat was clearly getting too close to the orca in the Ti Point channel.  Note the four fishing rods standing in rod holders.

 

The orca moved out of the harbour and headed east.  The same runabout continued to follow the pod across Omaha Bay and on several occasions came within less than 5 metres of some individuals in the pod (Figure 2).  Soon the runabout moved off towards Tawharanui Marine Reserve and we continued tracking the orca at a safe distance in an easterly direction.

 

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