Moko Gisborne’s resident dolphin is spending considerable time in the harbour basin which is risking the safety of boat operators, the public and Moko himself.
The Gisborne District Council will clamp down on people joining him in the water. Anyone caught swimming in the harbour may find themselves being fined $100.
The Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council and Eastland Group will jointly enforce a local bylaw which forbids swimming in and around the wharves. That covers the inner harbour, the turning basin and channel areas.
Gisborne District Council chief environmental health officer Sarwan Kumar says the bylaw is there to prevent accidents and keep everyone safe. The council’s enforcement officers and the harbour master can enforce it.
“At the moment we are asking people to be considerate . . . we just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he said. “If Moko does stay for the summer, then we will have to think very seriously about how we are going to manage it. No fines have been imposed yet and Mr Kumar says the council isn’t keen to take a heavy hand, but at the end of the day, safety is paramount.
“Gisborne has a busy working port with tugs, fishing boats, log ships and recreational boats coming and going all the time. Although it is tempting to jump in and swim with Moko, it is not a good idea. The volume of boats will only increase over the summer holiday period so this practice needs to stop now.” Mr Kumar said. “I encourage people to watch from the wharves, and take photos — just don’t jump in.”
Department of Conservation staff have concerns about risks posed to Moko should he stay in this area over the busy Christmas and New Year period. They fear he will be among large crowds of people, some of whom might not be as considerate as local people have been so far.