Nelson police are urging people to never let off distress flares in non-emergency situations after a false alarm sparked a late night search off the Tahunanui-Rabbit Island area.
The flare sighting triggered a search on Tuesday night involving 18 volunteers, police, Coastguard, Nelson Surf Rescue, and the Maritime Radio rescue co-ordination centre.
The flare was sighted about 8pm and searchers spent four hours on the water. It was established that the flare was likely to have been fired from land in the Monaco or Tahunanui area.
Police yesterday said the incident was frustrating and costly.
Police Search and Rescue incident controller Mal York said it was an offence to let off a distress flare in a non-emergency situation and people caught doing so would be prosecuted.
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