Fishery officers kept busy by fishing offenders
19 December 2008
Three court cases in the Auckland and Hauraki districts have seen six people sentenced for serious fisheries-related offences this week.
Black market team busted
A husband and wife team were sentenced in the Manukau District Court on Wednesday after they were busted selling flounder and grey mullet to members of the public on the black market.
Imelata Longtime, 40, and Tuuri Longtime, 48, were caught selling fish they had caught from Port Waikato from their home in Manurewa. The arrest came after a tip off from a member of the public after they saw a ‘fish for sale’ sign outside the Longtimes’ residence. The tip off resulted in a month long surveillance operation by the Ministry of Fisheries.
Mr Longtime faces 250 hours community work, while his wife was ordered to complete 150 hours community work on each of the four joint charges.
His Honour Judge Wade, who was presiding over the case, said the offending related to a straight out black market commercial enterprise that was carried out by the defendants over a one month period.
“Fish taken recreationally for the purpose of sale outside of the Quota Management System seriously affects the sustainability of individual fish stocks,” says District Compliance Manager in south Auckland, Ian Bright.
He wished to thank the community for reporting the illegal activity. “The information provided was invaluable and assisted my officers in targeting those people blatantly ignoring the rules,” he says.
Auckland trio six times over limit
On Tuesday three men were sentenced in the Auckland District Court for possessing 196 undersize paua – more than five times over the legal daily paua limit of 10 per person.
Duane Sands, 38, James Moon, 25, and Sepeti Lupeuvea, 22, were caught by a fishery officer after gathering seafood at Pauanui in October.
All 196 of the paua were undersized and measured between 49mm and 102mm. The minimum length for paua is 125mm.
Each defendant was fined a total of $2,000 plus court costs of $260 each. Sands’ 1989 Mazda 323 vehicle was also ordered forfeit to the crown.
Crayfish catch costly
A 40-year-old Whenuakite man appeared in the Thames District Court on Thursday after being caught with four times the daily limit of paua and an undersized, illegally caught, berried crayfish.
Thanasis Katsarelias was caught by fishery officers at Karo Bay, Tairua in September with 44 undersized paua and an undersized female crayfish carrying eggs (berried). The paua measured between 82mm and 110mm – the minimum size is 125mm.
It is an offence to catch a berried rock lobster and it is also an offence to kill rock lobster with a spear fishing gun.
Katsarelias was fined a total of $2,400 including court costs, his dive gear was seized.
“One rock lobster has ended up costing the defendant more than $1000 – if he had legally bought one it would have set him back about $50,” says Mr Bright.
“People need to realise the consequences of breaking fisheries rules and plundering a valuable fisheries resource,” he says.
“Those who continue to offend may face a day in court, fines of up to $250,000 and the automatic forfeiture of assets. The message is clear – abide by the rules, respect our fisheries, and ensure its future for all New Zealanders.”