A recreational fisher lost his launch to the Crown after being sentenced in Nelson District Court last week for a bin of largely undersize scallops.
Colin James McKinney, 69, self-employed, of Blenheim, was convicted of failing to immediately return undersize shellfish back into the waters from which they were taken, after a two day defended hearing in December 2015.
Judge D C Ruth fined Mr McKinney $1000 and the 10.8 metre wooden launch used to gather the scallops was forfeit to the Crown.
Ministry for Primary Industries District Compliance Manager Nelson/Marlborough Ian Bright said the Marlborough Sounds scallop fishery is currently at a low point, and illegal activity threatens a resource that is highly valued by the community.
Fishery officers stopped James McKinney’s launch in outer Pelorus Sound in July 2015 approximately 2km from the scallop bed where those aboard had recently been dredging for scallops.
There were two bins of scallops on board – one containing 104 legal sized scallops, the other containing 155 scallops, of which 133 were undersize. Both bins of scallops were clean of mud and other debris.
James McKinney stated that they had sorted the undersize scallops into a bin while travelling and that they intended to return them to the water.
In a written decision Judge Ruth rejected James’ evidence as being “unlikely, nonsensical and unrealistic”, and it was highly likely the undersize scallops “had been specifically cleaned and were ready for consumption by the defendant and others”.
Ian Bright says it is very important to return any scallops to the area where they were taken.
“Scallops can’t survive in any old place. They live in defined beds and it is important undersize scallops are returned to the area they were taken to ensure they have the best chance of survival. Returning undersize scallops to where and when it suits the skipper is not good enough.”
He says size limits are important to protect spawning stock and to ensure scallops can reproduce before they reach a harvestable size.
“We encourage people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.”