Commercial fisher nets $4000 fine, loses boat
23 March 2010
A commercial fisher who ignored the Inner Hauraki Gulf seasonal closure has been fined $4000 and had his $20,000 boat, nets and the proceeds of his catch forfeited to the Crown.
Ronald John Hunter, a 68-year-old commercial fisher from Maraetai, faced two charges of taking finfish from the Inner Hauraki Gulf during the October 1 to March 31 closed season and two of leaving a set net in the water for more than 18 hours when he appeared in the Manukau District Court on Monday 22nd of March.
He was fined $1000 on each charge. His 5.8 metre aluminium fishing boat, complete with its 2002 150hp outboard motor and trailer, together valued at $20,000 were ordered forfeit to the Crown. So too were two 600-metre-plus nets and the proceeds from the sale of the fish seized when Hunter was caught.
Hunter was caught as a result of a surveillance operation that observed his on- and off-water activities. In October 2007 he was twice observed setting nets in the closed area of the Hauraki Gulf and leaving them for more than the allowed 18 hours.
It is the second time Hunter has appeared on a fisheries charge.
Ministry of Fisheries Auckland Field Operations Manager Greg Keys says he is disappointed that an experienced commercial fisher such as Hunter had again flouted rules designed to protect the fishery.
“The seasonal closure is one of several measures put in place to protect juvenile snapper that congregate in that area. Both the seasonal closure and the 18-hour restriction support the sustainability of the fishery and keep it as healthy as possible”.
“A commercial fisher who ignores those rules is effectively compromising both their own livelihood and that of his colleagues. He is also, in effect, pilfering from the large numbers of recreational fishers for whom the Inner Hauraki Gulf is a key resource.”
Mr Keys urged any member of the community who saw any suspicious or illegal fishing to phone the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 4 76224).
“If we all work together, we can protect the resource and ensure there are good stocks of fish and shellfish for our children and grandchildren.”