Patrols net Coromandel fish thieves
2 March 2011
A coordinated series of patrols throughout the Coromandel peninsula over the summer period has caught 40 people breaking fisheries rules and stealing fish and shellfish from their fellow citizens.
According to Bay of Plenty Waikato Coromandel Field Operations Manager Brendon Mikkelsen, the patrols are proving so successful because the Ministry has adopted an “anytime, anywhere” approach.
“We run patrols from early in the morning until late at night, both on land and at sea. In conjunction with police, we also set up checkpoints and are catching offenders as they leave popular beaches and fishing spots with their illegal haul.”
Mr Mikkelsen says the patrols, which involve both Fishery Officers and Honorary Fishery Officer volunteers, have been spread over hundreds of hours and resulted in the detection of a wide range of fisheries offences.
“Some of these are quite minor but unfortunately several are not,” he said. “In the more serious cases, vehicles and property used in the offending have been seized and the offenders will be prosecuted. If the alleged offenders are convicted, these vehicles and property will automatically be forfeit to the Crown.”
Those found committing less serious breaches of the rules have received either a formal warning or a $250 or $500 infringement notice.
Mr Mikkelsen says the Ministry’s summer-long public awareness campaign is receiving excellent support both from local communities on the peninsula and from visiting fishers.
“Fishery Officers and HFOs obviously can’t be everywhere at once and we rely heavily on members of the public to alert us when they see illegal fishing activities,” he said.
“This type of support and information from the public, often provided on the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number, is invaluable. It helps us greatly in protecting the fishery from those who set out to plunder it, and from those who are simply ignorant of the damage they do by not fishing responsibly and sticking to the size and bag limits.”
Mr Mikkelsen says the support the Ministry has received over the summer reinforces the fact there are “4 million guardians” supporting fishery sustainability around the country.
“As our experience shows, those 4 million guardians are quick to report illegal activities when they see it.”
Members of the public who see any unlawful activity, including suspected poaching and offering seafood for sale on the black market, are urged to call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) in confidence.