Commercial fishermen fined for using over-length drag net
6 August 2007
Two local commercial fishermen have been convicted and fined for using a drag net exceeding the maximum permitted length within Tauranga Harbour.
Forty-two-year-old Leon Phillip Mikaere and 37-year-old Kevin Leo Mikaere, both from Otumoetai, pleaded guilty to using a drag net exceeding 1500 metres in length when they appeared before Judge Rollo in Tauranga District Court on August 3.
Fishery officers inspected the pair’s drag net and warps after watching them set the gear in Tauranga Harbour on April 26. The warps measured 1808 metres and the net 70 metres, a total of 378 metres in excess of the maximum permitted length. The net was seized by fishery officers.
In convicting and sentencing the men, Judge Rollo said that the focus of the regulations was on sustainability. Leon Mikaere, who has a previous conviction for illegal power hauling in 1998, was fined $1,500 plus costs of $330. Kevin Mikaere was fined $1,000 plus costs of $330.
Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen said commercial fishers using drag netting to catch fish in the shallow waters of Tauranga Harbour had caused some friction amongst the non commercial fishing community several years ago.
“However, this was resolved by new regulations in June 2000, effectively closing the harbour to drag netting by commercial fishers.
“The only exceptions were for a few existing commercial drag netters. The fishers were permitted to continue fishing using drag nets, subject to a number of controls.
“One of those controls was the 1500-metre maximum net and warp length, which effectively limits the catching capacity of the drag net method.”
Brendon Mikkelsen said it was disappointing to see the two local commercial fishermen breaching fisheries regulations in this way.