Greedy shellfish gatherers sentenced
7 August 2008
Three Rotorua men, caught with nearly double the daily bag limit of mussels at Maketu Beach in the Bay of Plenty, have been individually sentenced.
The trio were apprehended by fishery officers during a routine patrol in January this year and were found possessing 261 mussels - 111 over the legal limit.
Two of the offenders were also caught with nine undersized paua.
The daily bag limit in the area for mussel is 50 per gatherer per day.
Jesse Miwahara Phillips, 28, appeared in the Tauranga District Court in June and was sentenced to one hour of community work for each excess mussel - a total of 111 hours of community work.
Christopher Collier Herewini, 23, appeared in the Rotorua District Court yesterday and was sentenced by Judge Weir to 200 hours community work for possessing excess mussel and undersized paua (some of these hours also relate to unpaid fines).
The third member of the group, Jack Tiki Matua Phillips, 45, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court yesterday. The case was formally proved in Phillips’ absence.
Phillips was sentenced by Judge Ingram and fined $2600 plus court costs of $130 for possessing excess mussel. He also received a $250 fine for possessing undersized paua.
Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager, Brendon Mikkelsen, says he hopes the convictions send a clear message to those people who continue to take illegal quantities of seafood in total disregard for the sustainability of the fishery.
“Remember - if you choose to ignore the rules, the local community is watching and continue to assist Ministry of Fisheries compliance protect their fishery” he says.
If people have information or suspect illegal fishing anywhere in the Central Bay of plenty, they should ring the MFish poacher hot line 0800 4POACHER (0800 476 224).
For more information please contact Tim Ingleton, Senior Communications Advisor on 04 819 4236.