Fishing ‘burglars’ caught in night patrols
15 December 2010
Night sea patrols are proving an effective weapon against fishers, both commercial and recreational, trying to use the cover of darkness to “burgle” more than their fair share of seafood.
A commercial fisherman sentenced yesterday for fishing in the Mount Maunganui mätaitai reserve and a Waihi man who was found last Thursday with nearly three times his legal limit, were both apprehended as a result of the Ministry of Fisheries’ regular night patrols.
“It is disappointing that some fishers, both commercial and recreational, appear to be setting out to steal seafood while the rest of us are asleep,” says Brendon Mikkelsen, Ministry of Fisheries Bay of Plenty/Waikato/Coromandel Field Operations Manager.
“Luckily, most members of the public think this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and are quick to let us know what is going on.
“As yesterday’s case shows, the courts also take a dim view of this type of offending and deal strongly with those responsible.”
Bruce William Clifford Roberts, a 45-year-old commercial fisher from Mount Maunganui, was yesterday ordered to pay fines totaling $13,000 when he appeared in the Tauranga District Court.
Roberts had been caught setting crab pots in the Mount Maunganui reserve in August. He also faced an obstruction charge after continuing to empty the pots over the side of his boat, despite being told not to by a Fishery Officer.
He received a $10,000 fine for the first offence and a $1000 fine for the obstruction, and was required to pay a $2000 fee to redeem his boat, which was forfeited.
A Waihi man who was also apprehended as a result of a night patrol also faced possible prosecution. He was apprehended coming ashore at midnight at Tanners Point with nearly three times the legal limit of snapper. Brendon Mikkelsen says the man will have to pay $500 for the infringement.
“The Ministry has no tolerance for those who sneak out after dark to abuse the fishery,” he says. “The well-publicised bag and size limits are there to protect the resource and ensure that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same wonderful access to the fishery that we do.
“We will be maintaining our regular night sea patrols throughout the summer.
“We will also be relying on our ‘4 million guardians’: the vast majority of New Zealanders who want to see the fishery protected and these burglars caught and stopped.”
Mr Mikkelsen urges all fishers to find out about the rules before they go fishing, especially the numbers and sizes of fish they can take.
“Once you’re up to speed yourself, tell your children/whanau as well.
And if you see any illegal fishing activity, please help us by ringing the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number - 0800 476224.”