An Auckland man has been fined almost $1000 for fishing in a marine reserve in Whangarei Harbour during a fishing contest.
Christopher Philip Ludolph, 28, from Browns Bay, appeared in the Whangarei District Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to taking marine life from a marine reserve and obstructing a ranger acting in the exercise of his duties.
Ludolph was taking part in the Beach and Boat fishing competition on January 17, this year, when he was seen fishing inside the Reotahi Marine Reserve. He was immediately disqualified from the fishing contest.
About 2pm that day two Department of Conservation (DoC) rangers and a skipper on a boat patrol of the reserve found Ludolph's vessel about 100m inside the reserve boundaries.
The rangers saw him fishing and took photographs.
The summary of facts presented to the court said the DoC rangers approached the vessel as Ludolph was fishing. When spoken to he admitted knowledge of the reserve, but said he did not realise it was where he was. Ludolph also said he was taking part in the fishing competition at the time.
He launched his vessel from the Marsden Cove Marina, where a prominent sign about the reserve is located.
He claimed that no fish had been caught inside the reserve.
One of the rangers attempted to seize his fishing rod, but Ludolph refused to hand it over saying: "I'm not going to give you the rod, it's my brother's."
The other ranger explained that he had the power to seize the rod and asked for it a second time, but Ludolph again refused and replied in the same manner.
As a result of his refusal to co-operate the rangers retreated.
DoC enquiries revealed that all participants in the fishing competition were briefed on the boundaries of the competition, as well as no fishing areas, which included the marine reserve.
Ludolph was convicted and fined $750 for the taking charge and $200 for the obstruction charge.
He was also ordered to pay solicitor's costs of $250 and court costs.
Taking marine life from a marine reserve carries a maximum penalty of three months' jail and/or a fine up to $10,000, while the obstruction charge has a maximum of three month's jail and/or a fine up to $2500.