Northland scallop fishery offending
7 September 2010
Coinciding with the opening of the recreational scallop season last week, Northland Fishery Officers have been conducting land and sea patrols to make sure fishers are aware of the rules and are following them.
A large number of fishers were inspected, with the majority staying within the daily bag limit of 20 per diver.
“However there are always those who think they can operate outside the rules and take excess or undersize shellfish,” said Ministry of Fisheries Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards.
As a result of the patrols, in the last week nine warnings and one infringement notice were issued.
The worst offending was two Whangarei men facing serious charges after being apprehended with 436 scallops using a customary permit.
The men who had acquired the customary permit to take scallops had allegedly failed to adhere to the conditions imposed by the permit issuer, which included exceeding the number of scallops allowed with the permit.
Mr Edwards said that if anyone fails to comply with the conditions imposed by an authorised permit issuer, the permit becomes invalid and Fishery Officers have no choice but to deal with them as recreational fishers.
“On this occasion the men had not only exceeded the numbers allowed by the permit issuer, they had also failed to comply with the minimum size limit imposed.”
The quantities associated with hui and the like can sometimes place customary fishers at risk of prosecution if they fail to adhere to the conditions of the permit. “I stress the importance of customary fishers respecting the terms of their permits,” Mr Edwards said.
The divers’ dive gear and boat was seized along with the scallops, which were returned to the water.
Phil Heatley, Whangarei MP and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, said he was pleased to see general understanding of and adherence to the rules, but this type of offending was disappointing.
“There’s no excuse at all for this sort of behaviour. No-one has a licence to pillage and I strongly support Fishery Officers enforcing the rules as well as creating awareness among members of the public,” he said.
Divers are reminded that the minimum size for scallops is 100 millimetres across the widest part of the shell and a daily bag limit of 20 per diver applies. Fishery Officers will be out patrolling our beaches as the weather improves but they cannot be everywhere. The public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the Ministry of Fisheries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
The recreational scallop gathering season closes on 31 March 2010.