Public dob in fish seller

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 06:48 13/03/2014
Crayfish
SCOTT HAMMOND
Crayfish

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A Blenheim man has had his boat seized after he was busted with a sign on his gate advertising crayfish for sale.

A Ministry of Primary Industries spokesman said a tip-off from a member of the public led compliance officers to the recreational fisherman on Monday.

The property had a sign that read "whitebait and crayfish for sale", the spokesman said.

It is illegal to buy or sell recreationally caught crayfish.

Compliance officers searched the house and found 26 rock lobsters, two rock lobster pots and a "large sum" of cash.

Officers seized the rock lobsters, money and cooking equipment, as well as a boat worth about $40,000, the spokesman said.

The man was likely to be charged, he said.

Ministry for Primary Industries district compliance manager Ian Bright said staff had received calls from people worried about the legality of the operation.

"People understand that recreationally caught fish cannot be bought, sold or traded," he said.

"When there are thousands of eyes and ears out there, it allows our compliance officers to be very targeted and effective."

Fish could only be bought from a commercial fisher or a commercially operated fish retailer.

Anyone caught buying or selling recreational caught fish could be fined a maximum of $250,000. Any property used in the offence could be seized under the Fisheries Act 1996.

"The future of our fisheries relies on accurately estimating fish populations and allowing for a sustainable amount of fish to be caught," he said.

"That's why commercial fishing is strictly regulated and recreational fishers have daily limits to ensure there is enough fish left for future generations."

People running a "pseudo commercial operation" outside the law put the sustainability of New Zealand fisheries at risk, he said.

Anyone with information about illegal fishing or illegal dealing in fish should contact Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).

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- The Marlborough Express

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