A 36 year old Tauranga man who had pleaded guilty of illegally fishing in a marine reserve was discharged without conviction at a court hearing in Tauranga today. The judge ordered the man to pay $600 to charity, $150 towards court costs and surrendered his fishing rod and reel. This is the third case involving the marine reserve at Tuhua (Mayor Island) since the beginning of 2010.
Fishing in a marine reserve is prohibited under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 and attracts penalties of up to three months in prison, fines of up to $10,000 and possible forfeiture of boats and fishing gear Suspicious activity can be reported to DOC via the hotline 0800 362 468.
Department of Conservation Ranger Daniel Rapson says he is pleased that the man accepts responsibility for his actions: “it is clearly illegal to attempt any kind of fishing in a marine reserve, and this particular reserve is well known and has been in place for many years”.
“The number of patrols through the reserve has increased recently, leading to more charges being laid against people illegally fishing. We happened to be undertaking annual scientific monitoring at the time this particular offending occurred.”
Tuhua (Mayor Island) is a privately owned predator free island and is administered by the Tuhua Trust Board. The marine reserve extends one nautical mile out to sea, across the northern end of the island; and a restricted fishing area surrounds the rest of the island. Marine reserve protection at Tuhua has shown emerging signs of success in recent years, with increased numbers and sizes of fish present.
More information, including maps of the marine reserve and information about diving and other permitted activities, are available from DOC in Tauranga or online at www.doc.govt.nz/tuhua