A multi-agency fisheries compliance operation along the North Island's east coast has uncovered a range of offending including non-reporting of commercial crayfish.
The Ministry for Primary Industries-led operation involved resources and personnel from the New Zealand Police and the National Maritime Coordination Centre (NMCC) and focused on at-sea inspections of recreational and commercial vessels within the coastal waters of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Eight fishery officers and six staff from New Zealand Police were involved in the patrol from Auckland to Whanganui and back, covering 2,000 nautical miles and totalling 15 days at sea.
The patrol also covered 6 marine reserves in the area.
MPI chief compliance officer for Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa, Brent Smith, says the operation covered a large area of coast around the North Island including some isolated and remote areas that are usually difficult to reach by normal patrol methods.
"The operation was a good opportunity to check compliance of both recreational and commercial vessels fishing in the area over the summer period," Mr Smith says.
"More than 150 commercial and recreational vessels were inspected during the patrol, and approximately 300 people, including divers, were spoken to.
"We detected a small number of alleged offences including one incident of unreported crayfish by a commercial vessel in the Coromandel and undersized fin fish on an amateur fishing charter vessel.
"Follow-up action is being taken by MPI.
"The level of compliance was very good overall and it was great to see that the majority of people were doing the right thing.
"Joint operations like this with the Auckland Police Maritime Unit are an invaluable way in which to raise compliance levels. The fact we're out there together sends a very strong message that any incidents of non-compliance will be taken very seriously and those who are caught offending will attract the relevant penalties.
"This ultimately supports sustainable fisheries management, which is the aim of these patrols," says Mr Smith.
Mr Smith says ensuring and promoting sustainable fisheries is a collective responsibility and MPI encourages people to report poaching or illegal activity by:
- calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24)
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful information to report includes:
- the location
- description of the person
- vehicle or trailer registration number.
All information is treated as confidential.