Northland scallop fishers nabbed
24 November 2009
Earlier this week Fishery Officers apprehended a 34-year-old Whangarei man who had been diving for scallops at Urquharts Bay.
Upon inspection the man was found to have in his possession 148 scallops, a large number of which were undersize.
A short time later another four divers were apprehended with 147 scallops as they returned to shore. Again, a large number of these scallops were undersize.
“This is extremely disappointing and shows that certain people in the community are still willing to take their chances and gather large numbers of excess and undersize scallops,” said Ministry of Fisheries Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards.
The bag limit for scallops is 20 per fisher per day, with a minimum size of 100 millimetres across the widest part of the shell.
People who commit offences against the Fisheries Act are likely to face heavy penalties ranging from infringement fines of $250 to $500 through to court prosecution for more serious offending with penalties of up to $250,000. In addition, vehicles, vessels and fishing gear used in the commission of the offence will be forfeit to the Crown.
“The fisheries regulations are there for a reason and Fishery Officers are tasked with ensuring that fishers abide by them,” Mr Edwards said. “With summer drawing closer Fishery Officers will be out on patrol and those caught breaking the rules will be dealt with appropriately. The fishery is a finite resource and the public are reminded that every fish counts.”
Minister of Fisheries and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley said he was pleased to see that most recreational scallop fishers in the north were obeying the rules and that the few transgressors were being apprehended. “I applaud the work of Fishery Officers and Honorary Fishery Officers. Optimising the level of voluntary compliance with fisheries rules and maintaining an effective deterrence against illegal activity is an important action in the government’s Fisheries 2030 goal and plan of action.”
The scallop season for the Auckland and Kermadec area, which includes Northland, runs until 31 March 2010. The Kaipara Harbour fishery opens on 28 November.
The Ministry of Fisheries will be active on Northland beaches and waters and asks that the public report any suspicious activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).