TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Coastwatch TV Poster Image
New Zealand officers focus on marine wildlife protection.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series stresses the importance of conserving New Zealand's marine life -- and the danger that overharvesting poses to it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The officers work hard to protect New Zealand’s beaches and marine wildlife.


People who are cited for violating fishing laws occasionally get upset and yell insults at officers. Weapons (guns) are occasionally visible.


Occasional curses are fully bleeped.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People involved in accidents are sometimes suspected of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows law enforcement officials as they try to protect New Zealand's marine wildlife and has a strong conservation/protection message -- is pretty mild overall. People who are being fined for breaking local fishing/harvesting laws sometimes start yelling, but all profanity is fully bleeped. Illegal activities like poaching are discussed, and guns are occasionally visible. Alcohol and drugs are sometimes suspected in boating and swimming accidents.

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What's the story?

COASTWATCH follows officers from New Zealand's Ministry of Fisheries (known as M-Fish) and the Maritime Police of New Zealand as they patrol and protect their country's coastline. Officials like Maritime Police officer Kevin Stone and M-Fish agent Brian Giles work to stop international poachers from stripping beaches of New Zealand's unique fish and shellfish and selling them on the lucrative Asian black market; they also monitor recreational fishermen and women who violate local fishing laws. When necessary, they offer assistance to rescue workers helping distressed boaters and swimmers and remove dead animals from the country’s harbors.

Is it any good?

Narrated by Bray Poor, Coastwatch offers a glimpse at the fishing and aquatic culture that New Zealand is famous for. But the real story here is the growing danger that overharvesting and organized poaching pose to the country’s natural resources. Much of the show's discussion revolves around the importance of protecting New Zealand's beaches and sea animals, which are quickly being depleted.

Despite some angry reactions from people who are being fined and/or arrested by the officials, the series isn’t very violent or dramatic. In fact, most of the scenes lack the action that viewers might be accustomed to seeing in reality-based crime shows. But folks who like this sort of thing will find the show entertaining. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's message. Is it more focused on law enforcement or on conservation/environmentalism? Which matters more to you?

  • What are the consequences of illegal

  • harvesting? Is the problem with poachers unique to New Zealand, or do

  • other countries face the same kind of problems when protecting their

  • wildlife?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love nature

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