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Trout poachers nabbed with huge haul

Trout poachers nabbed with huge haul

July 8 2014

Two men will appear in court later this month after Eastern Fish & Game staff and police caught them “pillaging” trout from a spawning stream near Rotorua over the weekend.

An on-going surveillance operation culminated in the two Eastern Bay residents being caught with 29 trout, poached in the isolated stream near Lake Rotoiti.

More than half of the freshly-killed trout were mature spawning females, with wild fish making up the majority of the haul. It is one of the worst cases of poaching recorded in the area for the best part of a decade.

“This has the potential to deliver a huge blow to breeding stocks and the future fish population in the area,” Eastern Fish & Game officer Anthony van Dorp said. "I went for a walk along the stream this morning and couldn’t see a single trout - they’d absolutely pillaged it. The message needs to get through to people that poaching ruins it for everyone and while it’s devastating to lose this many fish, it’s satisfying these individuals will be facing severe penalties.”

Penalties for poaching fish during winter spawning season range from a maximum of two years’ jail or fines of up to $100,000.

Mr van Dorp believes the 29 trout recovered are only a portion of the true numbers taken recently, with his team and police working to identify several other suspects caught in covert video footage.

Fish & Game officers are hoping more fish will move into the stream to carry on the important wild spawning needed to keep Lake Rotoiti stocks up.

Eastern Fish & Game staff have ramped up their monitoring of local streams and lakes during the spawning season, using both high-visibility patrolling and sophisticated surveillance equipment.

Sunday’s bust saw police officers assisting Eastern Fish & Game staff, with two separate lots of fish located after Fish & Game officers spotted a suspicious vehicle parked off the main road.

“Wild spawning trout are very important to the fishery and need to be protected - it's not just the damage done when poachers take spawning trout but the massive damage they do to the trout spawning grounds and trout eggs in the streams,” Mr van Dorp said. “While we’re working hard to limit the damage these poachers can do to our fish stocks, we’re also keen to hear from any members of the public who see suspicious behaviour near closed areas or spawning streams.”

A toll-free number, 0800-poaching (762-244), can be used to call in sightings.

The two men will appear in the Rotorua District Court on July 31 charged with a variety of offences.


ends

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