Undersized kingfish could cost mate’s boat
18 February 2010
A Tauranga man found with 12 undersized kingfish could face a fine of up to $20,000 and possible forfeiture of a boat he had borrowed from a friend.
The man was caught yesterday (February 17) on his friend’s boat, by a routine Ministry of Fisheries patrol, in the area between the Mount entrance to Tauranga and Motiti Island.
When Fishery Officers found the 12 kingfish on board the boat, the largest measured 54.5cm and the smallest just 48cm.
Fishers are only allowed to take three kingfish each per day and the minimum legal size is 75cm.
The Ministry’s local Field Operations Manager, Brendon Mikkelsen, says the man claimed he did not know there were bag or size limits for kingfish, despite there being a detailed measurement sticker clearly visible on the boat.
“The man had also launched his boat from one of the ramps at Sulphur Point Marina,” says Mr Mikkelsen. “We purposely have installed a large sign there, detailing all of the bag and size limits for popular species like kingfish, and urging people to ensure they know the rules before they head out.
The fishery patrol also found a couple and their two children with an incredible 22 undersized snapper off Motiti. Although the minimum legal size for snapper is 27cm, several of these were less than 20cm and the smallest was a tiny 19.4cm.
“They claimed that they had thrown the undersized fish back but then recaptured them when they appeared to be floating dead on the water,” says Mr Mikkelsen. “This is a very lame excuse: all fishers know that undersized fish must be returned to the sea whether they are alive or dead; otherwise, anyone who was caught with an undersized fish could simply claim it was already dead.”
Mr Mikkelsen says the two incidents are particularly disappointing given that the Ministry has been running a number of campaigns this summer to encourage people to keep to the rules and take only what they need.
“We are working to preserve the future of the fishery and we know that most fishers do their part towards that and keep to the rules.
“Unfortunately it is a sad fact that a small percentage continue to take whatever they like, regardless of the rules or the future health of the fish stocks.”
Mr Mikkelsen also urged anyone who saw any illegal fishing activity to ring the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 Poacher number: (0800 4 76224).
“If we all work together we can protect our fisheries for now and into the future,” he says.