80 hours community work for taking mussel from closed area
14 August 2008
A 36-year-old sickness beneficiary from Katikati has been sentenced to 80 hours community work after being convicted of taking mussel from the 186A closed area at Mount Maunganui.
Joseph William Kowhai pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared in the Tauranga District Court on August 12.
The court heard that Kowhai had been caught on March 9, following information received from the public. A Fishery Officer had stopped Kowhai on the Marine Parade beachfront, alongside the closed area, and found him in possession of 100 green-lipped mussel.
The officer noted that Kowhai had wet hair and asked him if he had been diving for mussel and where. Kowhai admitted that he had and pointed to the section of the beach inside the closed area.
Kowhai claimed that he did not know of the closed area despite the clearly marked signs nearby.
In sentencing Kowhai, Judge Bidois said would have fined him $800 but, as Kowhai already had $4,000 in unpaid traffic fines, he believed another fine would be meaningless. He therefore sentenced him to 80 hours community work.
Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager, Brendon Mikkelsen, said the 186A closure was put in place by tangata whenua to help preserve the mussel beds for future generations.
“The closure was bought with widespread support from the local community. Signs advising people about the closure are very clear and are placed in prominent positions. We will actively consider prosecuting anyone breaching this rule.”