A teen has been fined after getting caught sneaking into the trout hatchery near Rotorua and stealing trophy-sized trout.
Duncan Arthur Scowen, 19, appeared in the Rotorua District Court last week and pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully being on a property and fishing without a licence.
The charges were brought by Fish & Game New Zealand, which has since slated the teen's actions as being a potential biosecurity risk and "blatant cheeky poaching".
A police summary of facts released to the Rotorua Daily Post said the teen and various associates had entered the Fish & Game grounds at the hatchery on Paradise Valley Rd four times between January 13 and January 21.
On all occasions he and the others had entered after the site had closed to the public in the afternoons or at night.
The summary said they had entered from the roadside through bush and across a stream, emerging into the area next to the children's fishing pond.
A covert surveillance camera operation in the area photographed Scowen and the others on each occasion. Scowen fished for trout on the Fish & Game site using spin fishing gear, which he and the others had brought with them.
On January 21 about 5pm, Scowen and three associates were at the grounds fishing at the children's pond when a staff member arrived in a vehicle.
They ran from the scene but were found a short while later on Paradise Valley Rd.
The summary said they originally denied having been at the Fish & Game grounds.
After inquiries, Scowen was identified and again spoken to and he admitted his actions.
He claimed he had no idea how many trout he had caught. He admitted he had fished in the adjacent display pond, where trophy-sized trout were kept, and had caught and kept a large trout from that pond.
However, he said he released most trout he had caught, including some into the nearby stream, the summary said.
The summary said he admitted not having a fishing licence and claimed he "should have to pay for fishing".
The summary said security footage showed some of the group, including a person resembling Scowen, were also at the site on January 12. Examination of old footage a year earlier from January 2017 showed Scowen was photographed at that time fishing at the children's pond without authority, the summary said.
Bringing fishing gear on to the site and using it in the hatchery pools was a biosecurity risk, with risk of bringing disease onto the site which could jeopardise the hatchery operation, the summary said.
Scowen was convicted and fined $400 plus court cost of $200 for fishing without a licence and fined $300 plus court costs of $130 for unlawfully being on a property. There was an order made to forfeit the fishing equipment.
Fish & Game regional manager Andy Garrick said the offending was "foolish in the extreme" because the site was well protected by surveillance cameras.
"The group obviously believed they could get away with such blatantly cheeky poaching."
As a result of the incidents, security on site had been increased further to protect hatchery operations from this sort of invasion, Garrick said.
Fish & Game said action had also been taken against three other people.