Mystery over dumped cod
The dumping of about 20 half-filleted blue cod at Shakespeare Bay near Picton has left fisheries officials stumped.
Marlborough boat builder Jon Brooks found the fish carcasses on Sunday morning at the boat moorings in the bay. The blue cod still had their fillets attached having only been peeled back, and were rancid when found, he said.
"It looks like whoever caught them started to fillet them but didn't finish and the fish went off, so they were just dumped them . . . I didn't get down and measure each one but I could see that there were some that were too big and some that were too small to keep," Mr Brooks said.
Blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds are subject to the controversial "slot" rule requiring fish to be 30-35cm long to be keepers. They may also not be filleted on the boat and only two fish can be kept per person.
Ministry for Primary Industries Nelson-Marlborough compliance manager Ian Bright said that it was a bizarre case. "About two years ago some of our guys found filleted fish dumped at Waikawa, but this case is quite unusual."
Mr Bright found the fact that the fish had only been partially filleted and then dumped perplexing. Without knowing how many fishermen caught the cod, and without accurately measuring them, it was not possible to say if any laws had been broken.
"That is the traditional way of filleting cod. It's interesting though that they would do half the job and then dump them.
"I checked and one of our guys was patrolling in the area but wasn't near there at that time, so it couldn't have been that they got spooked and dumped the fish," Mr Bright said.
Marlborough District Council reserves ranger Murray Hanson said that the dumping could be in contravention of the Litter Act, with a fine of up to $400 or possible court action.
Blue cod regulations for the Marlborough Sounds Area:
No fisher may possess more than two blue cod. This applies even if you caught the fish outside the area and you are transporting the fish through the area.
The fish must be 30-35 centimetres long.
No more than two hooks may be used per line.
Blue cod must remain whole or gutted at all times while on the water, unless they are about to be eaten on board.
- The Marlborough Express