Upper Hutt fisher convicted for fishing in a marine reserve
A Wellington man has been sentenced to imprisonment for 2 months for fishing in Taputeranga Marine Reserve, located on Wellington's south coast, and convicted for obstructing a fishery officer.
Carl Patterson, 31, appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court for sentencing on one charge of obstruction under the Fisheries Act 1996 and one charge under the Marine Reserves Act 1971, for taking pāua from a marine reserve without lawful authority.
Mr Patterson will serve his 2-month sentence concurrently with an 18-month sentence he is serving on unrelated charges.
The charges relate to an incident on 28 July 2019 when Mr Patterson dived for pāua in the reserve. When he was approached by a member of the public, he dropped the catch-bag and left in his car.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regional manager fisheries compliance lower North Island, Mike Green, says it's prohibited to fish or disturb marine life in marine reserves, with the exception being for monitoring and research, and a permit is required.
"Mr Patterson acted with disregard for our officer and for rules that are there to protect fish stocks and the environment for everyone.
"The catch-bag was retrieved by a Department of Conservation officer and found to contain 50 pāua."
Department of Conservation marine reserve ranger, Leon Berard says, marine reserves are the highest level of legal protection for the sea, seabed and foreshore.
"They benefit the wider fishery, so it is in the interest of divers to respect reserves and report illegal activity."
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).
Marine reserves provide places for scientific research and for the recovery of marine life by reducing or eliminating threats associated with human activities. As these are protected 'no take' areas, our taonga (treasured) plant and animal communities can flourish for all to enjoy, now and in the future.