Night patrols catch illegal fisherman

By Michele McPherson, Kiri Gillespie with Michele McPherson

A man was caught early this morning allegedly taking undersized snapper and flounder from his set net in Pilot Bay - and a commercial fisherman has been ordered to pay $13,000 for taking crabs from a protected reserve.
Mount Maunganui Police Senior Sergeant Joel Lamb said a 35-year-old man was caught by police about 5.45am today, with a set net containing a variety of species of fish, including undersized snapper and flounder.
Police seized the fish, net and a small dingy.
"While the quantities of illegal fish were not huge, police were disgusted to see that the male took everything caught in the net, regardless of its ability to be used for food or bait," Mr Lamb said.
The case has been referred to the Ministry of Fisheries to consider legal action.
Meanwhile, the commercial fisherman fined in Tauranga District Court this week was one of two men caught by Ministry of Fisheries officers on night patrol.
Bruce William Clifford Roberts, a 45-year-old commercial fisher from Mount Maunganui, was ordered to pay fines totalling $13,000.
Roberts was caught setting crab pots in Mount Maunganui's mataitai reserve in August.
He also faced an obstruction charge after continuing to empty the pots over the side of his vessel, despite being told not to by a fishery officer.
He received a $10,000 fine for the first offence, a $1000 fine for the obstruction and had to pay a $2000 fee to redeem his boat, which was forfeited.
The 6 sq km mataitai reserve spans the area surrounding the Mount Maunganui coastline and excludes commercial fishing but not recreational. The reserve was established by local iwi in September 2008 as a local area management tool to preserve shellfish and finfish sustainability.


A Waihi man who was also caught as a result of a night patrol was ordered to pay a $500 infringement notice.
The man was caught coming ashore at midnight last Thursday at Tanners Point with nearly three times the legal limit for snapper.
Brendon Mikkelsen from the Ministry of Fisheries said it was disappointing that some fishers, both commercial and recreational, appeared to be setting out to steal seafood at night.
"Luckily, most members of the public think this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and are quick to let us know what is going on."
A member of the committee which administers the mataitai around Mauao, Steve Penn, was "disgusted" with the actions of the commercial fisherman who he said should have known better.
"He knew the rules more than the average Joe public."
Mr Lamb said police officers held the same powers under the Fisheries Act as a warranted fisheries officer and assisted the Ministry of Fisheries in protected New Zealand's marine wildlife.
"Police urge any member of the public that witnesses illegal poaching to contact either the Ministry of Fisheries or Police."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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