Smorgasbord of seafood prosecutions in Auckland – follow the rules and read the signs

How much would you pay for a seafood meal? These Auckland fishers paid hundreds of dollars in fines for illegally taking cockles, too much snapper and mussels.

“People really need to follow the rules. Our Fishery Officers work hard to protect fishing resources from being stripped, and we’ll continue to hold people to account. When an area is closed – it is closed for a reason, because it is not sustainable to fish there,” says MPI Auckland Regional Manager Fisheries Compliance Andre Espinoza.

One of those areas is Eastern Beach which is closed to gathering cockles all year round and despite there being 17 Ministry for Primary Industries signs making this very clear, prosecutions continue with more to come.

In May, a 30-year-old woman was fined $1500 for taking 884 cockles from Eastern Beach. The cockles were discovered in the boot of her car during an inspection by Fishery Officers in November 2021.

More recently at Eastern Beach, a 30-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman were each fined $2000 for taking 1,462 cockles. The pair were caught by Honorary Fishery Officers in August 2021.

“It’s extremely disappointing that greed and lack of consideration for the marine ecosystem is common among those we catch. We would advise people to check whether an area is open to fishing, rather than assume it is. Areas are closed for a reason – to recover and rebuild,” Andre Espinoza says.

All the cockles were returned to the sea. In areas where gathering cockles is legal in the Auckland area – there is a 50 per person daily limit.

And four other people, all aged in their 20s who in October 2021 at Muriwai beach, were found in possession of 1,025 green lipped mussels which is over 10 times the daily limit each if divided, were fined $1,000 each in the Waitakere District Court.

“Protecting our precious marine resources is not just the responsibility of Fishery Officers. Those resources belong to all New Zealanders and we all have a responsibility to act as kaitiaki/ guardians of those resources for future generations,” He says.

Meanwhile, Fishery Officers are regularly dealing with people who take excess snapper in Auckland when fishing recreationally. They’ve issued infringements and some people have also appeared before the court.

Earlier this month, a group of four Auckland men aged from 50 to early 60s who had been fishing aboard a boat in the Hauraki Gulf were fined nearly $4,000 for possession of both excess and undersize snapper. The men had 94 snapper despite the daily limit being 7 per person.

And in a separate case, a 56-year-old Auckland man was fined $875 for taking 34 snapper. He had been warned in 2019 for similar offending.

“The rules are there for a reason – to protect the resource so that everyone can have a chance to put kaimoana on the table. When people take excess and undersize fish, they threaten sustainability,” Andre Espinoza says. 

ou see suspicious fishing activity – call 0800 4 POACHER or email ncc@mpi.

Before going fishing or gathering seafood, brush up on the rules for the area and type of gathering you plan to do by checking the fishing rules in the local area.

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