Scallop fishers urged to play by the rules
31 August 2011
Scallop lovers are being urged to observe the fishing regulations when the new season in the top half of the North Island opens on September 1.
“Most of those who dive, dredge or head to the beach to collect scallops will play by the rules,” says Greg Keys, Ministry of Fisheries Acting Regional Operations Manager.
“Unfortunately, however, a minority will not and will instead try to take too many scallops or ones that are undersized.”
From September 1 until March 31, in the Auckland and Kermadec Area, which includes Northland, the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Kaipara Harbour, gatherers are allowed to take a maximum of 20 scallops measuring a minimum of 100 millimetres across the widest part of the shell.
Greg Keys says fishers are expected to count and measure each shellfish as it is gathered. This is primarily to protect the resource and to give the scallops being returned the best possible chance of survival.
“Only those who actively take the scallops are entitled to a limit,” Mr Keys said. “This means they must have gathered the scallops themselves from the beach or actively participated in the setting and recovery of the dredge.”
The only exception is where a diver is gathering the scallops from a boat, in which case the diver may also legally take a limit for a safety person and for a boatperson, provided both are on board and acting in those roles.
Those who ignore the rules may receive infringement notices of $250 or $500 or, in more serious cases, face prosecution, large fines and the possible forfeiture of vehicles or boats.
Earlier this year, a man was convicted after being caught with over 80 scallops, more than half of which were undersized. He received a $1000 fine and lost his 7.3-metre boat, everything on it (including a 200 horsepower outboard) and his dive gear.
There are several ways to find out the fishing rules - the Ministry of Fisheries website, www.fish.govt.nz, in brochures available from any Ministry office and most bait and tackle retailers, or by sending a text to 9889.
Members of the public who see others breaking the rules are encouraged to use the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).
“If we all work together we can ensure a sustainable fishery for the future,” Greg Keys said.