Oamaru breakwater are to be closed in evenings

Following concerns raised during a recent Seven Sharp screening about people walking on the Oamaru breakwater to view Oamaru’s blue penguins, it has been decided to consider the closure of the breakwater in the evenings.
Acting Chief Executive Neil Jorgensen says the number of people going on the breakwater in the evening to view Oamaru’s iconic birds returning from sea has increased and there are fears that both people and penguins are at risk.
Mr Jorgensen says, “Because this part of the harbour is outside the penguin colony and therefore outside the control of Tourism Waitaki, we have real concerns about the penguins being disturbed and harmed and that people may take undue risks and could potentially hurt themselves, especially in large groups in the dark.”
“It’s for these reasons that we’ve decided to discuss the closure of the breakwater area in the evenings with access being reopened in the morning.”
Council will formally consider a permanent night closure at its next meeting. It is being recommended that the breakwater area is closed at 5pm from March to October and from 7.30pm from November to February, in line with daylight saving, and will reopen again early the following morning. In the meantime a trial closure is in place until Council makes a final decision.
“We’ve listened to advice and believe this is the best course of action to protect both the penguins in their natural habitat and lower the risk of people from harming themselves when in large groups on the breakwater in the dark. The breakwater is an important feature for Oamaru and access to the public during daylight hours will continue.”

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