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City-Based Illegal Harvesters Plunder Coromandel

City-Based Illegal Harvesters are Plundering Coromandel

June 27, 1999

City-Based Illegal Harvesters are Plundering Coromandel
Aucklanders wearing out Coromandel coast

Big illegal catches are threatening Coromandel coastal fisheries, according to Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

She called for government to better resource honorary fisheries officers to stop the plunder, especially by semi-professional harvesters from Auckland and Hamilton.

Only six honorary fisheries officers existed between Thames and East Cape and they had to patrol inland eel fisheries as well, she said. While the Fisheries Ministry had been looking at basing two more officers at Whitianga, there was little official money to support them.

"The Government now regards fisheries as a cost-recovery area, and is concentrating on providing services to commercial fishers," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"But preserving our coastal environment should be an integral part of protecting the New Zealand lifestyle. New Zealanders and the people of Coromandel in particular feel they and their children should be able to gather an occasional feed of pipi or paua without finding the whole bed has been wiped out."

Some rocks around Thames - especially sharp volcanic nodules beside large rockpools - had now been worn smooth by human feet, she said. Much of the wear was caused by tourists as well as locals, but big commercial operators created the most serious pressure.

"A recent clampdown in Auckland seems to have forced illegal harvesters to places like Kawhia and Coromandel," Ms Fitzsimons. "People convicted for such offences during the last few months are the unlucky few who have been caught - most get away with it."

Ms Fitzsimons praised honorary fisheries officers for their unpaid work, but said their patrol of beaches needed greater official status and support. Other coastal people also had to remain vigilant. A kind of seaside "neighbourhood watch" was needed these days to protect the Coromandel, she said.

Last week the New Zealand Herald reported the Fisheries Ministry was looking at reducing bag limits for oysters, cockles, pipi, tuatua and mussels in Coromandel and other parts of the upper North Island.

"Without more resources to police the limits, they are meaningless," Ms Fitzsimons said. "We need to catch the offenders, not punish the law-abiding."

(Examples of recent court cases follow)

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP 07 8686641, 025 586068 Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665

Examples of recent court reports involving coastal plundering of the Coromandel:

1. Coastal News, June 3: Two Auckland men were fined a total of $2120 in Waihi District Court for having 1200 pipi and 1000 cockles. Police said the men were found with the shellfish at Whangamata. The daily amateur limit is 150 of each species per gatherer. The Fisheries Ministry is quoted as saying another seven people were before the courts on shellfish offences detected in the Whangamata and Tairua area during the summer.

2. Coastal News June 3: Three Auckland men were jointly charged in the Thames District Court and fined a total of $1190 after police found 84 undersized paua in their car at Tairua. 3. Hauraki Herald: Reported that three Hamilton people took more than 4000 pipi at Whangamata on May 28, 1999, according to police.

4. Coastal News, June 3: Four Whangamata men were each fined $900 plus $130 court costs at Tauranga District Court for taking 137 crayfish, 65 more than permitted in daily catch limits.

ends.


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