Successful start to scallop season, but some over fishing still occur
10 September 2008
The scallop season for all of Northland started on Monday 1st September 2008, with the vast majority of fishers following the rules.
During this first week highly visible Ministry of Fisheries water patrols were out in Whangaroa Harbour, Bay of Islands, Whangarei and Kaipara.
“Our water patrols inspected more than 100 vessels where people were gathering scallops”, said Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager Darren Edwards, “Whilst the majority of people we spoke to were following the rules, a small number were found to be in breach of the regulations”
In one particular case in the Bay of Islands, two free-divers were found to have taken 124 scallops between them, 84 of which were well undersize.
“We want to remind divers that they are required to ensure that they are within their daily bag limit of 20 and that their catch measures more than 100mm across the widest part of the shell”, said Mr. Edwards.
With a recent allowance made in the regulations, a diver is now allowed to take a bag limit for up to two safety people on the vessel. This effectively lets them have a maximum of 60 scallops if there are two safety persons on board and one diver. Quota for safety persons cannot be taken when diving from the shore.
Penalties for breaching the rules range from an infringement notice of up to $500 to, in more serious cases, prosecution and forfeiture of boats and equipment with fines of up to $20,000.
“Divers are also reminded that this is only the start of the season and fishery officers will be maintaining regular patrols throughout the season”, Mr. Edwards said.
Members of the public who see any activity that they think is suspicious are encouraged to contact the Ministry of Fisheries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224).
“Fishery officers are tasked with protecting our fish stocks for future generations, they don’t want to write out tickets but if you ignore the rules you leave them no choice,” Darren Edwards said
The scallop fishing season runs from 1st September 2008 to the 31 March next year.
More information on the recreational fishing rules for the northern North Island is available here.