A huge catch of illegally caught snapper hidden under the floorboards of a recreational boat may see three South Auckland men facing serious fisheries charges.
On Anzac Day afternoon (Friday the 25th of April 2014) Ministry for Primary Industries Honorary Fishery Officers and Compliance Officers were conducting inspections of fishing boats at the Kawakawa Bay boat ramp.
Honorary Fishery Officers spoke to three fishermen in an aluminium boat, as it returned to the ramp. The three fishermen claimed to have only caught 13 snapper and eight kahawhai, which they showed to the Honorary Fishery Officers.
On further inspection of the boat Honorary Fishery Officers located a further 221 snapper hidden under the floor boards of that boat.
Of the 234 snapper in total, 114 were found to be undersize.
The boat, trailer and car were seized by MPI Compliance Officers.
The three men, all South Auckland residents, were aged 33, 38 and 39.
The investigation is continuing, and they may face charges under the Fisheries Act 1996, with a maximum penalty of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000.
MPI, North Harbour, District Compliance Manager, Michael Simmons says: “The blatant disregard for both the size and quantity of illegal fish taken by these fishermen, places a huge strain on the survival of the snapper fishery. The Honorary Fishery Officers involved did a great job to detect this offending.”
Also at Kawakawa Bay, on the same day, four shellfish gathers were inspected with officers locating a total of 1016 cockles in their possession. A bag containing 340 cockles was hidden under the seat of the car they were in.
This group also had their car seized, and they are likely to face charges.
The total cockles allowed per day is 50 per person.
“This is another demonstration of blatant disregard for the rules designed to ensure sustainability of the shellfish, for all to enjoy in years to come.”
“We rely on the public for its assistance and I encourage people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
For further information, contact MPI media phone 029 894 0328.