Northland Fisheries operations nab six people in two separate incidents
Northland Fishery Officers have been busy over the weekend after two separate incidents in which six suspects were apprehended for fisheries violations.
In the first incident on Friday 18 January, Fishery Officers for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) executed a search warrant at a residential address in Tikipunga, Whangarei. This was the conclusion of an investigation which determined that numbers of recreationally caught crayfish were regularly being offered for sale on Facebook for prices between $20 and $30. Items seized from the address included crayfish, cellphones and computers. Further enquires are continuing regarding those who had purchased crayfish from the address.
A 46 year old man and a 42 year old woman have been questioned and could face serious charges of illegally selling crayfish in contravention of the Fisheries Act 1996. This carries a maximum penalty of a maximum fine of $250,000 and the forfeiture of any property or equipment used in the offending.
In a second incident, Fishery Officers apprehended four Whangarei men on Sunday afternoon with 474 toheroa which had been illegally taken from Ripiro beach on Dargaville’s west coast. Their vehicle was seized and it is likely that the four men will also face charges of illegally taking toheroa in contravention of the Fisheries Act 1996. This carries a maximum penalty of a maximum fine of $250,000 and the forfeiture of any property or equipment used in the offending.
MPI District Compliance Manager Northland, Darren Edwards says the rules are there for a reason, and those flouting them need to be held to account. “Toheroa are a prohibited shellfish, the only way that they can be gathered is by way of customary permit for hui or tangi. Offending of this scale is nothing but blatant theft and undermines the Fisheries Act and further depletes a fishery which is already prohibited for this reason.”
"While it’s great that the vast majority of people stick to the rules and respect bag limits, there are always those who will try to get more than their fair share,” says Mr Edwards.
"We ask the public to report any suspicious activity in our fishery by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). The assistance of the public by reporting suspicious or illegal activity to fishery officers is a key element in protecting our fishery."
For information about recreational fishing limits visit www.fish.govt.nz . Alternatively you can get up-to-date fishing rules with the free MPI fishing app by texting 'app' to 9889 or visiting http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/MFish+Apps/default.htm