Courts Busy With Fisheries Offenders

The illegal harvesting of rock lobster, snapper, cockles, pāua and mussels was at the centre of the more serious offences prosecuted by the Ministry for Primary industries in various District Courts around New Zealand over the last two months.

In July, at the Ruatoria District Court, a 27-year-old East Coast man was fined $1000 for taking 92 undersize rock lobster. Another man also involved is to be sentenced in November. In April 2021, the men were gathering shellfish at Lottin Point, East Cape. They were stopped at a checkpoint and had their catch bag inspected by MPI fishery officers. The men had 92 pāua and all were less than the minimum legal size of 125mm

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Three men all appeared in the Papakura District Court and two of them were fined $750 each with the third man fined $500. Their boat was forfeited to the Crown.

There are big fines and other consequences for exceeding the rules, which are there to ensure the sustainability of stocks so we will still be able to make reasonable catches in the future. Photo – Grant Dixon

In August, a 57-year-old man was fined $800 in the Kaikohe District Court for taking 463 green-lipped mussels from Hokianga Harbour in February this year. The daily limit is 50 per person.

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At the Manukau District Court, two men, aged 52 and 46, were fined $1200 dollars each for taking cockles from Auckland’s Eastern Beach, which is closed to gathering cockles all year round. One of the men had 865 cockles and the other man had 881 when they had their vehicles searched by MPI Fishery Officers.

“When people take more fish than they’re legally allowed, they deprive others of the opportunity to fish for a feed." This bowl represents the legal efforts of two divers and their boatman. Photo – Grant Dixon

And a 23-year-old man and 38-year-old man were each fined $750 in the Papakura District Court for each taking 90 green-lipped mussels from the Whakatīwai area of the Hauraki Gulf in 2020. They were part of a group of five who collectively had 450 green-lipped mussels. One other member of the party is still to appear before the court for sentencing. The daily limit per person for green-lipped mussels is 25.

“When people take more fish than they’re legally allowed, they deprive others of the opportunity to fish for a feed. They also threaten the sustainability of the fishery. When fishery officers find evidence of people breaking these rules they will take action, and this could include an infringement fine or prosecution before the courts,” says MPI National Manager Fisheries Compliance, Niamh Murphy.

If you become aware of any suspicious fishing activity, call MPI on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email [email protected]. Recreational fishers are encouraged to download the free NZ Fishing Rules app.

– Ministry for Primary Industries

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