Colin Lyall Sharland, 59, was fined $13,500 and convicted today in the Nelson District Court for commercial fishing in Kahurangi Marine Reserve on the West Coast of the South Island.
MPI regional manager compliance upper South Island Howard Reid says MPI doesn’t tolerate fishers who fish in areas that have been closed to fishing.
“While we accept the skipper did not mean to fish in the marine reserve, these rules are in place for good reason – to protect the diversity of marine life on the sea floor and in the water. Protected marine life like the endangered Hector's dolphins, seals, and seabirds do visit these areas.
“MPI expect fishers to know the rules before they go out, this includes knowing the location of the boundary lines for marine reserves and taking care to avoid them.
“The offending came to light as a result of our electronic monitoring system which tracks the location of the entire commercial fishing fleet in near real time. The system alerts us when vessels enter areas that are restricted or prohibited.
“On 31 December 2019, Mr Sharland, skippering Jay Belle, deployed a bottom trawl net when it was approximately 18.89km south of Kahurangi Marine Reserve. The vessel travelled north and entered the reserve at approximately 7.30pm still towing the trawl net. The net travelled along the seafloor within the reserve for one and a half hours, covering a distance of almost 9km.
“The estimated catch for the unlawful trawl was reported as 2,097kg of fish with an estimated wholesale value of $10,699.27. It is estimated that a third of that catch was taken from the Kahurangi Marine Reserve, with a value of $3,210. This is to be paid to the Department of Conservation.
MPI encourages fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers to report any suspected illegal activity through the ministry’s 0800 4 Poacher number (0800 47 62 24).