Northland commercial fisher convicted
17 November 2009
A Northland commercial fisher has been convicted of an offence under a rule designed to help preserve the sustainability of the local fishery.
Gary Elmbranch, who regularly fishes in Kaipara Harbour, appeared in the Whangarei District Court last week having pleaded guilty to a charge of setting a net so that “stalling” occurs, an offence against the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing) Regulations 2001.
Stalling means leaving a net set when tide levels fall, allowing it to go dry with any fish in it inevitably dying.
Elmbranch was fined $500 with court costs of $130, and his fishing vessel was ordered forfeit to the Crown.
The rule preventing stalling of commercially set nets was introduced to Kaipara Harbour in 2008 after an exemption allowing it was revoked. The exemption had been applied for geographical reasons – there are many sand banks and sand bars in the area. The commercial fishing regulations for the Kaipara are now aligned with national rules and this was the first prosecution since the exemption was removed.
“The introduction of this regulation is a key component in ensuring that Kaipara Harbour fisheries remain sustainable,” said Ministry of Fisheries Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards.
“Kaipara Harbour has an extensive fishery that is important to commercial, recreational and customary fishers alike, and Fishery Officers will act to ensure that their rights are protected and their duties enforced.”
Minister of Fisheries and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley said he was pleased to see the rules working effectively in an iconic fishing area that deserved protection for all New Zealanders. “Needless waste like this shouldn’t be tolerated and I applaud Fishery Officers for their actions in this case,” Mr Heatley said. “Maintaining an effective deterrence against illegal activity is one of the key actions in the government’s Fisheries 2030 goal and plan of action.”
Members of the public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity on or around our beaches to the Ministry of Fisheries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).