Fishers lose cars and get big fines for ignoring cockle limits
29 May 2007
Two women who blatantly ignored the legal limits for collecting cockles were convicted and each received a fine of $1800 plus court costs of $130 when they appeared in the Manukau District Court on May 25.
Both have also had their 4-wheel-drive vehicles confiscated and forfeited to the Crown.
Honorary Fishery Officers (HFOs) had caught Sinai Fonua, a 42-year-old seamstress from Mangere and Losaline Elone, a 36-year-old meat packer from Mt Wellington at Cockle Beach on February 10.
The pair was collecting cockles with three children and had what fishery officers describe as “an astonishing” 2348 cockles between them, mainly in their 4WD vehicles.
Each person gathering cockles at that beach is entitled to take 50 cockles per day, meaning the group’s entire legal take was 250.
After deducting 50 cockles for each of the three children, Fonua and Elone were found to be in possession of 2198 cockles or 1099 each, nearly 22 times their daily limit.
Ministry of Fisheries Auckland district compliance manager, Ian Bright, said that illegally taking this large a quantity of cockles was considered serious non-commercial offending. He noted that such offending carried a maximum fine of $20,000 plus forfeiture of any vehicles or vessels used to commit the offence, in this case the women’s two 4 wheel drive vehicles.
He also said he was disappointed by the women’s attitude to taking such a large quantity of shellfish.
“Although both women knew that there were cockles at the beach and knew how to collect them, neither had bothered to find out how many they were entitled to take.
“They were still gathering cockles when they were caught and, if they had not been stopped by the HFOs, one can only imagine how many they would eventually have taken off the beach.
“Daily legal limits are there to ensure the health of the resource for our children and for future generations. It is very disappointing to see these two women setting such a selfish example to the three children they had with them that day.”
Ian Bright said he hoped the large fines, nearly $4000 in total and the loss of the two vehicles, would send a strong message to others tempted to ignore the legal daily limits for shellfish.
“Our job is to manage this resource for the good of the whole community, not just the selfish few would think the rules do not apply to them.
“Our officers regularly patrol the shellfish beds at Cockle Bay and other Auckland beaches and those who blatantly break the rules are likely to be caught and prosecuted.
“Then, like these two women, they will almost certainly receive a conviction, a very large fine and the probable loss of their vehicle.”