Snapper found floating in the Hauraki Gulf
21 December 2007
On Thursday the 19th of December a large quantity of snapper floating in the sea off the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula just outside Coromandel harbour was reported to the Ministry of Fisheries by a recreational fisher.
The fish were all around 30cm in length and larger, and appeared to have only been in the water a short time. The fisher estimated well over 400 fish were floating.
Later that day a quantity of snapper washed ashore at several coastal areas including Oamaru Bay, Kikowhakarere Bay (north of Coromandel township), and nearby areas.
Fishery officers who examined the fish formed the view that they were not recreational catch as they bore no signs of being hook-caught, and due to the number and condition, concluded that the fish had come from a commercial vessel.
This is the third time this year that large quantities of snapper floating in the Hauraki Gulf have been brought to the Ministry’s attention.
The Ministry’s Auckland District Compliance Manager Ian Bright said that the high grading or “dumping” of healthy fish was considered serious offending and penalties for fishers convicted of dumping included fines of up to $250,000 and forfeiture of vessels used in the offending.
“The waste of large quantities of healthy snapper is very disappointing and is totally unacceptable. The Fisheries Act requires commercial fishers to return snapper under the minimum legal commercial size of 25cm to the sea immediately and so it is not uncommon to find small snapper floating. However the Ministry of Fisheries urges fishers who find quantities of fish floating in the sea, particularly snapper that are over 25cm in length to report the finding to the nearest MFish office.”
Identifying the vessels involved in dumping can be difficult and MFish encourages any fishers who witness such an offence or who come across quantities of fish floating to record the time, location, species, size range and estimate the quantity involved. It is also helpful if the name and registration number of any vessels in the vicinity of the fish is recorded.
“I am confident that all responsible fishers, both commercial and recreational deplore such waste and timely reporting can greatly assist in enabling the MFish to hold those who deliberately dump fish to account,” Mr Bright said.