Northland fishery officers have caught a 66-year-old Russell man with 997 flounder and 677 shucked oysters packed in punnets.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said they were disappointed by the scale of the illegal haul found with MPI spokesperson Steve Rudsdale saying officers were concerned at the scale of the offence.
“The haul was commercial in scale. The man had more than three times the daily limit of both flounder and oysters.
“On top of that, the man was fishing with a net that was 178 metres long. The maximum legal length for a flounder net is 60 metres. The way the oysters were packed in punnets and the length of the net indicate the illegal catch was destined for the commercial market.”
Rudsdale added that they would like to remind people that they should be motivated by collecting for “a feed rather than greed.”
“Also, that it is an offence to buy seafood from an unlicensed source. Buying fish this way is also a food safety risk, particularly in respect of the oysters, given that commercial oyster farms in the Bay of Islands were closed due to high rainfall.”
MPI added that they were hanging onto the kaimoana at the moment as evidence. While they do strive to return kaimoana to the waters whenever possible, in this case, it would have to be destroyed. The kai would also not be shared the community due to food safety concerns.
The man’s vessel, fishing nets, and a vehicle have been seized and he will face charges under the Fisheries Act.