Eastern Courier : January 19th 2011
www.easterncourier.co.nz Wednesday, January 19, 2011 0800 ABC KIDS Poachers beware Hunting poachers: Honorary fisheries officers Keith Ingram, left, and Barry Wood on Cockle Bay's shellfish beds. Photos: FIONA GOODALL By MATT BOWEN Sought after seafood: Taking these cockles can land people in court. TUCKING in to illicit cockles in the shallows has gone too far. The Ministry of Fisheries gloves are now off. Shellfish bans remain in place at Eastern Beach, Cockle Bay and Umupuia to prop up fragile stocks, yet people continue to flout the law. Honorary fisheries officer and eastern district team leader Keith Ingram says the problem has worsened this summer. It s time for serious action . Fisheries officers will be getting tougher on those that sit out there and offend by taking, opening and eating cockles on the bed, he says. Not only is it an offence against the Fisheries Act, it s an affront to local customs, local iwi and it is not good practice to open shellfish on the beds because all you re doing is introducing the potential for disease to enter the area. Fisheries officers will be actively collecting photo- graphic evidence for prosecutions. People eating cockles at the low tide mark with their back to the beach may feel secure but they re wide open to cov- ert surveillance. They don t realise now that with the binoculars and cameras we ve got we can zoom right in and tell them what sized ring they have on their left ear, Mr Ingram says. Since Christmas we ve intercepted some serious offending that will ultimately lead to prosecutions. The latest breach came from under-16s who arrived with a church group from south Auckland. In cases such as this res- ponsibility falls on the parents or caregivers. Breaches of bans designed to sustain stocks, such as the Cockle Bay closure, are con- sidered serious offending under the Fisheries Act. Successful prosecutions can result in fines of up to $100,000. Taking shellfish from Cockle Bay is illegal during the closed season from October 1 to April 30. The limit is 50 cockles per person during open season. There are signs of recovery on the beds. Report poachers to 0800-4-POACHER.
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