ZB

Seal skinned and eaten at site of Wellington occupation

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 5:56pm
Mahanga Bay. Photo / Nick James
Mahanga Bay. Photo / Nick James

Seal skinned and eaten at site of Wellington occupation

Author
Georgina Campbell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 5:56pm

The Department of Conservation has launched an investigation after a seal was skinned and eaten by those occupying Mahanga Bay in Wellington. 

The occupation on Miramar Peninsula formed after the anti-mandate protest at Parliament was broken up earlier this year. 

Tents, campervans and cars could be seen littered across the area near the beach this week. 

DOC Kapiti-Wellington operations manager Angus Hulme-Muir said staff were informed about a seal being recovered from a net in Mahanga Bay. The seal appeared to have drowned as a result. 

Staff went to the scene and met with the people who reported it, Hulme-Muir said. 

"The group were comforting the seal and were asked to inform DOC once it had died so that it could be buried. This was not done, and DOC was later informed that the seal was skinned and partially eaten." 

Under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992, it is an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill marine mammals, or to take parts of deceased marine mammals, such as teeth or meat. 

Anyone charged with violating the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 faces a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000, Hulme-Muir said. 

"The DoC compliance team is investigating to establish if any offences have been committed and to what is the appropriate course of action to take." 

Wellington City Council voiced concerns earlier this week about sanitary issues at the site. 

Spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was in discussion with police, Niwa, and other parties regarding the occupation. 

"We're considering our options with a view to encouraging the occupiers to leave the site. The council has concerns about health and hygiene at the site." 

Police confirmed they have been working to engage with the group at the bay to bring an end to the occupation.