A security guard, mother, and office worker were together fined $4,000 plus $390 court costs for their part in taking cockles from Eastern Beach in Auckland, which has 18 signs along the beach warning of the closure.
Jonathan Farrow-Russell, 35, was fined $1,000 plus $130 court costs, while Milika Tulikihakau, 22, and Connie Carter Pooi, 24, were each fined $1,500 plus $130 court costs, following a prosecution taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
They were sentenced in the Manukau Magistrate's Court yesterday (29 March 2021).
MPI fisheries compliance regional manager, Andre Espinoza, says in order to rebuild the shellfish population, there is currently a closure at Eastern Beach, where no shellfish at any time may be gathered.
"Taking cockles from a closed area has the potential to seriously impact on the sustainability of cockle beds and the wider marine environment."
The charges relate to an incident on 13 March 2020, when honorary fisheries officers stopped the group and inspected their catch. They found Farrow-Russell had 279 cockles in his possession while Tulikihakau and Pooi were in possession of 712 cockles.
The group claimed they had not seen the signs and did not know the beach was closed to shellfish collection.
"People who don't respect the rules will be appropriately dealt with under the law," Mr Espinoza says.
"Protecting our precious marine resources is not just the responsibility of fishery officers. Those resources belong to New Zealand, and we all have a responsibility to act as guardians of those resources for future generations."
If you become aware of any suspicious fishing activity, call us on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you go fishing or gathering seafood, brush up on the rules.