Auckland: Honorary Fishery Officer operation snares snapper poachers (09 July 1999)
A late night operation involving Honorary Fisheries Officers (HFO's), a Ministry of Fisheries compliance officer and police last night (Thursday July 8) resulted in the apprehension of three alleged snapper poachers.
The three had been under suspicion for some time and were caught as they attempted to smuggle their illegal catch ashore at Point England on the banks of the Tamaki River, said the Ministry of Fisheries Compliance Manager, Auckland, Ian Bright today.
Two of the alleged offenders and about half of the snapper were seized on the beach while the rest of the catch was found, along with the third person, hidden on the boat used. It was still moored in the river.
"One of the three attempted to escape along the beach but was soon caught. A total of 130 snapper were seized, 46 of which were under the legal limit of 27mm long," Mr Bright said.
The daily take per person is nine (9) snapper. The trio apprehended last night had nearly five times their legal limit, Mr Bright said. The apprehensions are the result of four months work by the local HFO's, a network of concerned volunteers who give up their time to help protect - and police - the local fishery.
"We've had a lot of information from the public about fishers always coming in well after dark and our own observations confirmed this. We believe there are groups of people in the area who have taken substantial quantities of snapper out of the gulf in the last few months, often staying out overnight to ensure an even bigger catch."
"At a time when the vast majority of fishermen and women are doing their bit to help rebuild the fishery, it is sad to see that some people are apparently prepared to selfishly take as much as they can, regardless of the consequences," Mr Bright said.
The trio could face a number of charges; including taking and possessing excess and undersized snapper, and obstruction. If convicted, they could face fines of up to $5,000 for each of the fishing charges and a massive $250,000 for obstruction - as well as the likely forfeiture of all fishing gear including their boat and outboard.
Mr Bright said it would be about two weeks before the Ministry had completed its investigation into the alleged illegal taking of snapper in the area. A decision whether or not to charge the alleged offenders would be made then. It was possible there were more people involved, Mr Bright said.
For more information contact:
Ministry of Fisheries