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Published: 2001-07-11 00:00:00

Raglan stock owners who let their animals wander over mudflats face a $750 fine or prosecution.

Over the past few months Environment Waikato has received several complaints about livestock wandering Raglan’s coastal fringes and mud flats. In some cases staff have found considerable damage to the marine ecosystem from trampling and effluent contamination.

Resource Officer David Pearks said the Whaingaroa Harbourcare groups and the Council have actively worked with the community to educate landowners about the need to exclude livestock from the coastal marine area by fencing coastal property margins.

“While this has been successful in a number of cases there still appears to be stock access issues in certain areas of the harbour. To deal with offenders in the future we will serve infringement notices which will cost the offender $750 for each offence.

“If the offences continue it will be recommended that enforcement action be taken, and a prosecution can result in a significant fine of up to $200,000.”

Livestock in estuarine areas may damage, destroy and stop regeneration of existing vegetation, causing destruction of habitat for fish spawning and other wildlife. Archaeological sites and waahi tapu may also be damaged by livestock, he said.

“The effects on vulnerable habitat, species and ecosystems and the loss of significant native vegetation and habitats of native fauna within the Coastal Marine Area is an issue which the Council addresses through its Proposed Regional Coastal Plan.”

A rule in the Plan prevents anyone allowing livestock to go onto mangroves, saltmarsh or eel grass, or on muddy parts of the Coastal Marine Area. The rule is not new: it has been in place since the Regional Coastal Plan was proposed in August, 1997, Mr Pearks said.