A 51 year-old Awarua woman illegally selling her recreational catch from a mobile food caravan has been nabbed by Northland fishery officers.
Northland fishery officers started investigating the woman in July 2012, afterreceiving a tip off from a member of the public. The woman was found to be illegally selling fish and chips from a mobile food caravan she was operating at a private address in Awarua, Kaikohe.
During a search of the woman's caravan, fishery officers located over 90 snapper fillets, some of which were prepared ready for sale. All of the snapper had been caught recreationally and the woman did not hold a permit to take fish for commercial use. The snapper were being sold for $4 per fillet.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Northland Compliance Manager, Darren Edwards says this type of offending shows an obvious disregard for fishery sustainability.
"While this was a great outcome for the fishery officers involved in the investigation,it was extremely disappointing to see the blatant disregard she showed for the Quota Management System and recreational fishing regulations which are in place to sustain and protect our fish stocks," says Mr Edwards.
The caravan and all associated cooking equipment have been seized and thewoman is likely to face prosecution in relation to serious breaches of the Fisheries Act 1996. Serious breaches of the Act attract maximum fines of up to $250,000 and the forfeiture of all property used during the offending.
The daily legal limit for snapper on Northland's east coast is nine per fisher with aminimum size of 27 centimetres.
"Fish can only be purchased from a commercial fisher or a commercially operated fish retailer. It is illegal to purchase as well as sell recreationally caught fish and those caught committing offences may face prosecution.
"MPI is reliant on the public's support and we need your help to protect and sustain fish stocks. If you see any suspicious fishing activity please report it by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224)."