Banned fisheries poacher sentenced
2 October 2009
A Northland fisheries poacher who was caught fishing while under a court order banning him from doing so has been sentenced to two months’ community detention and placed under a seven-day-a-week curfew from 8.30 pm until 7 am.
A boat, trailer, outboard motor and fishing gear worth about $12,000 that he had apparently borrowed for this illegal fishing trip were also forfeited to the Crown.
Ernest John Chapman, a 56-year-old beneficiary from Kaitaia, was originally convicted of illegally taking large numbers of flounder from the Manukau Harbour and selling them. As part of his sentence he was banned from all forms of fishing for three years.
However, in March 2007, Chapman was stopped at Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara, in the now-confiscated boat. Fishery Officers found fishing equipment and a snapper on board. Subsequent investigations showed other fish had probably been thrown over the side when Chapman became aware of the patrol’s presence.
Chapman had been stopped by Fishery Officers two days earlier, having been seen towing a boat through Awanui. He said then he was aware of the ban and its effects.
“Defying a banning order in this way is a very serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail or a $100,000 fine,” said Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager Ian Bright.
“Recreational or amateur fishers are only banned for repeated serious breaches of fisheries law. Such breaches include selling recreationally taken fish, buying or possessing unlawfully taken fish, or providing false details to a Fishery Officer,” Ian Bright said.
Fishers convicted of two such offences within a seven-year period can be banned for up to three years.
In addition to an immediate two-month sentence of community detention, a night curfew and loss of the $12,000 boat, Chapman was also ordered to pay $750 in court costs.
“It is deeply disappointing that people like this offender seem to have no regard for fisheries law or the potentially disastrous effects their actions have on local fisheries,” said Fisheries Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley.
“While the vast majority of recreational fishers keep to the rules and try to preserve the resource, a persistent minority keep trying to take as much fish as they can, without any regard for their children’s future or the environment.
“With staff numbers on the ground being bolstered and new anti-poaching rules coming into force, the Ministry will keep pursuing and prosecuting poachers like Chapman on behalf of all New Zealanders,” Mr Heatley said. “Maintaining an effective deterrence against illegal activity is a key action in the recently released Fisheries 2030 goal and plan of action.”
Members of the public who see illegal or suspicious activity on or near our beaches are encouraged to phone 0800 4 POACHER, 0800 476224.