Active Planet 2015 Ltd, a tourism company, was fined on 3 March at Pukekohe District Court for charges related to illegally guiding on public conservation land, the Department of Conservation says(*).
DOC says the fines totalled $12,000 and Active Planet was fined $4,000 on each of three charges by Judge Kevin Phillips.
“Active Planet specialised in tours for international students across the north and south islands. The company was prosecuted by DOC and pled guilty in October 2018 to commercial guiding without authorisation at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, Pancake Rocks in Paparoa National Park, and at Blue Pools in Mount Aspiring National Park,” DOC says.
Marta Lang Silveira, DOC’s National Compliance Manager, says that DOC rangers and compliance officers had spoken with the company on a number of occasions prior to October 2018. DOC asked the company to apply for a concession (a permit to operate) after learning it was guiding commercially in a wide range of conservation areas, none of which it held a concession for. It did not complete the application process but continued to run tours illegally.
DOC says Judge Phillips commented that Active Planet had been informed of the need for a concession by DOC, making this offending blatant and premeditated.
“The Judge noted that the fine, in this case, reflected the company’s financial circumstances, and in other cases, much higher penalties may be imposed.”
DOC says the maximum penalty a court can impose for guiding for commercial purposes without a concession is a fine of up to $300,000, or imprisonment of individuals for up to 5 years.
Companies or individuals wishing to operate a business or commercial activity on public conservation lands and waters need a concession from DOC. It is illegal to do so without a concession.
DOC says it has been boosting its compliance efforts, including running a summer compliance programme in tourist hotspots over the last and current summer season.
- (*) https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2020-media-releases/company-fined-$12000-for-operating-illegally-at-iconic-tourist-spots/