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Poachers Caught In Fisheries Operation

2 September 2005

MEDIA RELEASE

From the Ministry of Fisheries

Poachers Caught In Fisheries Operation

Gisborne fishery officers say two men are likely to be charged after another surveillance operation led to the discovery of a large number of illegal rock lobster pots. One pot seized by the fishery officers contained 51 rock lobsters, only one of which was legal.

Napier District Compliance Manager, Ray McKay said two men had been interviewed and will face charges for excess and undersize rock lobsters, illegally marked gear, no escape gaps in pots and using more than six pots in any one day.

"Despite all the publicity and the substantial increase in penalties, some people still think they can get away with this theft of our marine resources. I find it extremely disappointing. When will people learn this is not acceptable," he said.

Gisborne and Napier fishery officers are maintaining a high level of surveillance along the East Coast and would continue to prosecute any breaches of the fisheries regulations.

Fishery Officer Martin Williams says that in the latest incident Gisborne fishery officers had seized thirteen pots from a boat. The seized pots had no markings and no escape gaps for undersized rock lobsters.

"We have had the area under surveillance and observed two fishers fishing a large number of pots. As a consequence of the observation, our patrol vessel was brought in to assist.

"We were shocked to find one of the pots was a large holding pot. We found 51 rock lobsters still in the pot. Of these 50 were undersized and one was a egg bearing female, also undersized. Only one lobster was of a legal size."

"Penalties for this type of offending range from maximum fines of $10,000 to $20,000 and automatic forfeiture of property (including vessel) upon conviction. Fisheries seek maximum penalties for this level of offending."

McKay says the sixteen foot vessel has been impounded and will be retained by Fisheries pending the outcome of the court case.

ENDS

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