Two men were arrested at the weekend for obstructing Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Fishery Officers after refusing to hand over a bag for inspection.
The officers involved allege paua was then dumped from the bag into the Motunau River, north of Christchurch City.
MPI’s Canterbury District Compliance Manager, Peter Hyde, says the men chose an unlucky weekend to gather paua at Motunau as the Ministry was conducting training with its Honorary Fishery Officers there and had 15 officers available to assist.
“The paua recovered from the river was in excess of the daily limit and also below the minimum legal size”, Mr Hyde says.
Police from Amberley were called when the men allegedly threatened and obstructed the officers.
Mr Hyde says the incident is concerning. “This is the second incident of threatening behaviour along with other incidents of abuse towards our officers in the past month. It’s totally unacceptable and anyone caught behaving in this manner can expect to be charged.
“The penalties for this category of offence are significantly greater than having a few fish over the legal bag limit,” he says.
70 other inspections were conducted over the weekend. The level of compliance was very good, with three warnings issued for divers having a small number of crayfish which were taken with soft shells.
Canterbury has seven full time Fishery Offices and 11 Honorary Officers. Honorary Officers have the same powers as full time officers and perform an important in role in driving compliance with recreational fishing rules through education and, where necessary, infringement notices.
Mr Hyde said it is important that fishers know the rules for where they are fishing before they head out.
Information of all limits and sizes including closures and other rules can be found on the MPI website www.mpi.govt.nz
Fishing rules pamphlets are available at MPI offices and at many fishing shops, or text “App” to 9889 to have the NZ Fishing Rules App sent to your smart phone.
MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.