BUSY SUMMER FOR MPI FISHERIES OFFICERS
It has been a busy summer period so far with plenty of good sized fish being caught around the Coromandel. It is still disappointing that Ministry for Primary Industries Fisheries Officers are still catching people with undersized and excess snapper.
A fisherman from Whangamata tried to tell officers that he still takes snapper at 27cm and who was going to tell him couldn’t! He was given an infringement notice of $250 to remind himself that the rules have now changed to a minimum size of 30cm.
Fisheries Officers have also been actively policing the shellfish gathering areas on the Thames Coast. We had a report from a member of the public that a sack of shellfish was being placed into a vehicle. We were unable to attend the scene in time so our Comm’s Centre staff phoned the Thames Police and they stopped the vehicle coming through Thames. These 3 individuals in the vehicle were found to have 862 cockles. The limit in the Coromandel area is 50 cockles per person so this was ridiculously over the allowable limit.
Inquiries are now been made to the whereabouts of these people so they can be formally interviewed because of the large amount of cockles they had in their possession. This may lead to the vehicle being seized.
A Te Kauwhata man was seen diving at Otama. His vehicle was later stopped by Fisheries Officers in Kuaotunu and an inspection of the vehicle was undertaken. This person was very reluctant to allow the search of his vehicle. He did a runner from the inspection scene, setting off at high speed on the opposite side of the road heading to Whitianga.
A call was immediately made to Whitianga Police for assistance. The vehicle was soon stopped in Whitianga and this person now has pending charges against him for failing to comply with the instructions of a fisheries officer. The vehicle was seized. People need to understand that any obstruction of a Fisheries Officer going about their duties is dealt with seriously by the courts.
If a Fisheries Officer requests to search your vehicle it is wise to comply. Failure to comply with those instructions can lead to more serious charges being laid, vehicle and boat seizure and a very large fine.
Lastly, a final reminder to divers. The scallop season closed on March 31.
Reported by George Ririnui,
THREE-YEAR FISHING BAN FOR PAUA POACHERS
George Ririnui, Senior Fisheries Officer.
A lot has been happening around the Coromandel with respect to the Fisheries enforcement scene.
Two divers from South Auckland were caught with 218 undersize paua from the Coromandel area. Fishery Officers, observed both divers just going hard taking paua. Both men struggled to carry their catch bags back to the vehicle. The men appeared in the Manukau District Court for sentence after pleading guilty to Fisheries charges. Both men were fined $2000 each and also given 100 hours of community work. It was also brought to the Judge’s attention that one of the men had previous fisheries offences from 2015 for taking 212 undersize paua from Sailors Grave, Tairua. Due to his past offending, the Judge has banned this poacher from fishing and diving for 3 years.
On a separate incident a Hamilton diver was caught with 72 undersize paua from Kuaotunu. The Fishery Officers observed the diver throwing the paua into a white bucket. Later that afternoon his vehicle was stopped at a Fisheries checkpoint and searched. But no white bucket. One of the officers went and checked a track used by the diver and located the white bucket hidden under the trees He appeared in the Hamilton District Court and was sentenced to a fine of $1500. This person also had previous fisheries offences from 2015 for
taking 112 undersize paua from Kuaotunu. Again Fisheries Lawyers asked the Judge for a banning order.
The Hamilton based Judge has banned another poacher from fishing and diving for 3 years.
On both incidents various items of fishing gear used during the offending were forfeited to the Crown.
An Auckland man was caught with 38 undersize paua. Fishery Officers observed him carrying a plastic bag back to his vehicle. This person was spoken to and a search of his vehicle failed to locate the plastic bag. One of the Officers finally located the plastic bag hidden under the vehicle. Because of the language barrier, he was formally interviewed back in Auckland using an interpreter. An explanation
given to the Fishery Officer was, he didn’t mean to take the paua as it was only a planned day out with the family to the beach. He pleaded guilty in the Thames District Court and fined $1130, an expensive day out for the family.
A message from our team, the fisheries’ rules are there for all of us, if you don’t see us around, ask yourself I wonder where they are …? We do have a habit of surprising people!
A rousing round of applause by the Kuaotunu Ratepayers and Residents Association members greeted the announcement by Paul Kelly that the Bluff Road between Matarangi and Suckers Rock will be open for walking and cycling by the end of the year. This is once unstable rocks and debris are removed and mesh netting installed. Mr. Kelly speaking at the KRRA meeting on behalf of the Thames Coromandel District Council said Council had a lot to consider but the right option has been taken to benefit the community.
“A lot of work has gone on to make this happen including independent legal opinions and considerable community liaison so it was great to report back to the community of a successful outcome. I fully endorse the announcement by Council. A cycle and walkway will be a great benefit to both the local residents of Kuaotunu and Matarangi as well as providing a further recreational activity for visitors,” said Mr Kelly.
In recent times sections of the Bluff Road have had several significant rock falls, which has resulted in approximately $200,000 already being spent on remedial and design work. The last rock fall in December 2015 resulted in the Suckers Rock to Matarangi portion of Bluff Road being closed off while Council considered its future viability. At their April meeting the TCDC approved a further $125,000 towards the remedial work, which will allow the road to be reopened later this year to cyclists and pedestrians. However it will not be accessible for vehicle traffic due to the high cost it would take to open and maintain the route for all transport modes.
"We're doing all that is required to make the road safe so it can be open to cyclists and pedestrians, who use it as a thoroughfare to get between Matarangi and Kuaotunu West," says Allan Tiplady, Mercury Bay Area Manager.
"The primary driver for reopening this portion of road is for amenity reasons rather than to provide alternate road access," he says. With Council funding in place the next steps will be removing all that rock and debris, installing the mesh netting and getting the road open before this coming summer. However until the remediation work is completed access to the road will still have to remain closed. "We also put up pedestrian barriers, bollards and signage during this time, along with a monitoring programme to manage the public safety risk," says Mr Tiplady.
The future of the Kuaotunu Village Library is becoming more secure with a steering committee being formed to work out ways to keep the service within Kuaotunu. Following a decisive vote at the public meeting held at the Kuaotunu Hall on Easter Sunday it was decided that the community of Kuaotunu should continue to maintain and support its local library. What is still under question is whether the Kuaotunu Hall can continue being the current Library venue due to ongoing access and opening hours issues. The new library steering committee will address these issues in the months ahead and will be led by Maxine McRobbie. Isabel Gilbert Palmer, Avril Nicholl, Denise Young and Marguerite Meullers have been volunteered as committee members. TCDC Mercury Bay Area Manager Alan Tiplady said the council will be able to support the new library committee in principle though it was unlikely that any assistance would be financial. It is great to see that this community library will continue, because it has been serving Kuaotunu for 123 years and is one of the oldest continuous libraries in New Zealand. There are a number of ways a small rural library can survive and the committee will investigate what is possible in the months ahead. If you want to find out how you can help keep a Library service in Kuaotunu or require further information contact Maxine McRobbie mobile (027) 2930369.
The committee of the Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association (KRRA) has raised several topics of concern with
TCDC recently both in correspondence and at our public meeting held in January. In order to better explain our
position and continue dialogue with council the committee invited Mercury Community Board Chairman, Paul Kelly, and
TCDC MB Area Manager, Allan Tiplady, to meet with us to discuss our concerns and we thank them both for coming out
to Kuaotunu in mid-February to discuss these.
The main topics covered in a very useful meeting included the proposed MB Medical Facility, the Bluff Road closure,
footpaths at the Kuaotunu boat-ramp, and a bike rack and community notice board at Kuaotunu Village.
The medical facility was discussed at length and it was confirmed that the original decision to use the Waterways land
out past the fire station was decided by Council’s Economic Development Committee. This was revealed to the public in
a one sentence comment in their minutes of 31 May, 2016 by Glen Leach but none of the events leading up to this decision
appear to be in the public record of their meetings. The decision was made public several months after Leigh Hopper
from Waterways had resigned from his position as a member of the Economic Development Committee.
KRRA has decided that we will achieve little by pursuing this matter further with council so will concentrate on other local
issues and watch further developments of the medical facility with interest. We thank council for the time and effort they
have put into answering our queries on this and other matters recently.
The best news we have had for sometime is that both council and LTNZ are cooperating on a staged extension of the
footpath westwards to the boatramp (LTNZ) and then on to Kuaotunu West (TCDC). This will provide a much safer
environment for residents and ratepayers when walking along this stretch of scenic coastline as a steel guardrail will separate pedestrians from road traffic. Work is expected to commence in early to mid-2017.
Reported by Alastair Brickell