Illegal use of customary permit costs over $16,000 (14 September 1999)
A man who illegally sold crayfish taken under the guise of customary fishing was fined $16,000 plus costs of $460 when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on August 26.
Eru Mete Cooper, unemployed, of Wairoa, also had his boat, trailer and outboard forfeited to the Crown. A Toyota 4WD Hilux that Cooper had borrowed and which was used to commit the offence was also forfeited to the Crown.
Cooper had applied for a customary permit to catch 200 rock lobster (or crayfish) for a tangi. The permit was granted on the condition they he kept his permit with him at all times and that special minimum size restrictions (60mm for females and 54mm for males) were observed.
After receiving information from the public, Fishery officers visited the Claudelands housie complex on February 13 where they found Cooper in possession of 415 crayfish, 19 of which were undersized.
After pleading guilty in front of Judge Simpson, Cooper was fined $8000 on each of two charges and ordered to pay court costs of $260 and solicitor's fees of $200.
Napier District Compliance Manager, Ray McKay says it is pleasing see the courts treating the abuse of the customary permit process severely.
"Responsible Maori and we in the Ministry are, I'm sure, equally horrified at such an abuse of this new process.
"We are all working hard to ensure that customary fishing rights are respected and the permit process is an integral part of that.
"When a permit is abused in this fashion, it is a slap in the face for all concerned, and it is good to see the courts recognise this."