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Fines for fishing in Canterbury marine reserve

11 April 2018

Fines for fishing in Canterbury marine reserve

The Department of Conservation is urging fishers to check the location of marine reserves before they go fishing after a string of offending in Canterbury’s two marine reserves this summer.

DOC has laid charges for six incidents of alleged illegal fishing in Pōhatu Marine Reserve and Akaroa Marine Reserve on Banks Peninsula. Last week four Canterbury men were prosecuted and fined in the Christchurch District Council for illegally fishing in one of these reserves.

Grant Richard Burgess, James Cunningham, Sean Cunningham and Mark Donald Macalister Nelson all pleaded guilty in court on Thursday 4 April to charges of taking marine life from Pōhatu Marine Reserve, on the southeast side of Banks Peninsula.

DOC rangers on a routine boat patrol of the marine reserve saw the offenders fishing from two separate boats on 4 January 2018. The men told the rangers they weren’t aware of the marine reserve.

In imposing fines ranging from $500 to $750 plus court costs, Judge MacAskill said there was no reasonable excuse for their actions and they ought to have made sure what protected areas there were in the locality. An order was made for forfeiture of the fish that were caught.

DOC Mahaanui Operations Manager Andy Thompson said people who fished had a responsibility to ensure they knew where marine reserves were and their boundaries.

“The Pōhatu Marine Reserve was established in 1999 and is one of several marine protection areas around Banks Peninsula, which also includes the Akaroa Marine Reserve, Akaroa Taiāpure, and Banks Peninsular Marine Mammals Sanctuary.”

“These cases are a reminder that people who fish in marine reserves can expect to be prosecuted.”

The location and boundaries of the marine reserves are clearly marked on the DOC website, as well as on all updated marine charts and signs at all boat ramps in Akaroa Harbour.

Fishing in a marine reserve has a maximum penalty of a fine of $10,000 or three months’ imprisonment, or both. Equipment used in the offending can be forfeited. Fishing or taking, in relation to any marine life, includes any attempt at taking.


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