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Seal harasser fined $650

17 March 2006

Seal harasser fined $650

A significant fine handed out to a man convicted of throwing stones at fur seals on Wellington’s south coast is a warning that harassment of protected marine wildlife will not be tolerated by the courts, says the Department of Conservation.

Daniel Kereti, 24, of Wellington was fined $650 plus court costs of $100 when he appeared in the District Court in Wellington today to admit a charge of throwing stones at a seal last September at Red Rocks, a seal haul out where seals come in from the sea to rest during the winter months.

In a prosecution taken by the Wellington Maritime Police Unit under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, the court was told how Kereti and four associates drove to the area in a four wheel drive vehicle and threw rocks at seals lying among the rocks. One of the rocks struck a seal on the back, causing it to growl in response.

When spoken to by the police, Kereti admitted to throwing rocks at and striking one of the seals, which did not require medical attention.

DOC biodiversity programme manager Rob Stone, who checked the seals after the incident, said the penalty imposed by Judge Butler was a clear warning to the public that harassment of protected marine mammals is not tolerated by the courts or society.

“New Zealanders value their marine wildlife and in Wellington marine mammals are a reminder of the wild edge to our city. Most Wellingtonians would be appalled by any ill treatment of these animals.”

Mr Stone said he was grateful to the people who reported the incident to the police and DOC. If people see seals being harassed by dogs or people, posing a danger to themselves or others, or obviously sick or severely injured they should contact their nearest Department of Conservation office or call the 0800 DOC HOT line (0800 36 24 68).

“But seals are generally on our beaches for some well-deserved rest and recreation and should be left to relax in peace.” ENDS

Footnote: Last year three Otago men were fined $2500 each for shooting a seal on the Otago coast in June 2005.

ENDS

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