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A busy fishing summer with extremes of behaviour

9 March 2011

A busy fishing summer with extremes of behaviour

Capitalising on good weather and fishing conditions, recreational fishers everywhere have been enjoying a bumper season.

The Ministry of Fisheries reports generally good behaviour from the majority of fishers, who are aware of, understand and follow the rules.

However, the fish thieves have been out in force as well. Their indiscriminate pillaging of our fisheries, particularly the sensitive paua fishery, has been more uncaring and extreme than ever.

Reflecting on incidents like the recent apprehension of 27 people with almost 1000 paua close to his own electorate in Northland, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley said he was sickened that some people continued to flout the rules.

“It’s a problem everywhere but I hate seeing this sort of behaviour in my own back yard,” Mr Heatley said. “These people are stealing from all New Zealanders, including future generations, and they must be nailed to the fence.”

The good news is that most fishers are being responsible and are making sure their children and whänau know and follow the rules as well. They are also being vigilant and reporting illegal and suspicious behaviour to the Ministry of Fisheries at every opportunity.

Acting Chief Executive Andrew Coleman said he was delighted to report that January had seen a record number of calls to the 0800 4 POACHER line.

“For the first time ever we received more than 1000 calls – 1004 to be exact – in a single month, and a number of these led directly to apprehensions,” Mr Coleman said. “Fishery Officers can’t be everywhere and we’re very reliant on the public to notice and report bad behaviour. Responsible people are angry that their fisheries are being abused and they’re taking it upon themselves to help do something about it.”

In December and January there were almost 8500 inspections of recreational fishers by Fishery Officers and voluntary Honorary Fishery Officers throughout the country. A number of these led to detection of offences, prosecutions and the issuing of infringement notices and warnings.

Penalties for fisheries offences range from $250 to $250,000 with vehicles, boats and dive gear liable to seizure and forfeiture upon conviction. For more serious offences, convicted offenders can be liable to terms of imprisonment of up to five years.

Mr Heatley said he totally supported the Ministry’s efforts to stop the fish thieves. “I am 100 per cent behind their zero-tolerance approach – and I know responsible members of the public are too,” he said.

The Ministry of Fisheries encourages members of the public to report any suspicious activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).

He kaitiaki tätou katoa

We are all guardians


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