Case study: Dive Tutukaka
Many international and domestic divers and tourists are keen to visit the Poor Knights Islands. These 11 million year old islands, lying 22 km offshore, provide visitors with some breath-taking scenery both above and below the water, and the opportunity to see a huge variety of marine life. A marine reserve was established around the Poor Knight Islands in 1998 and the area is currently being assessed as a World Heritage site (part of the Whakarua Moutere islands application extending along the north-eastern coastline of the North Island which is registered with UNESCO by the Department of Conservation).
Dive Tutukaka, founded in 1999, operates out of the Tutukākā Marina in the Bay of Islands and focuses its visitor experience around the Poor Knights Islands. It is New Zealand’s largest dive charter company, taking over 12,000 people to the Poor Knights Islands every year on five boats. 2979 The enterprise has won a number of national and international awards for environmental and business practices, including New Zealand Tourism’s Supreme Tourism Award in 2006, Rankers Travel awards and PADI Green Star awards. 2980
The voluntary routing of ships around the Poor Knights Islands has been an important part of protecting this very special marine environment. After two incidents when oily bilge water was released into the sea between the Poor Knights and the Tutukākā coast, threatening the area's world-renowned wildlife and marine ecology, the voluntary routing was set in place. Poor Knights Island is a mandatory area to be avoided by all vessels greater than 45 metres length overall, with only a few exemptions to this rule. 2981 This is discussed further in the section on vessels.
The evolution of the dive company has gone hand-in-hand with advocating for marine protected areas. This company was a key player in advocating for the exclusion of recreational fishing from within the reserve. This was highly controversial, and it was the value for tourism that was advocated by Dive Tutukaka, that supported the case for the exclusion. Due to the company’s frequent and numerous trips to the area, it is actively involved in ensuring that the Poor Knights are respected by others, and also reports violations to the shipping ban restrictions surrounding the island group.
Last updated at 2:11PM on February 25, 2015