Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance officers had a foul surprise when a routine inspection led to the discovery of more than 200 rotting snapper.
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On the 10 October MPI compliance officers inspected a recreational fishing vessel in Kawakawa Bay to make sure the owners were within their daily recreational catch limits (nine per person in the Auckland and Kermadec Fishery Management Area).
Inspections like this are regularly carried out to ensure recreational fishers are complying with the Fisheries Act 1996.
The fish presented were all of legal size, but upon further inspection, a compliance officer uncovered a fish wrapped up in a tarp and disguised under the floor boards of the boat. A closer inspection revealed a further 40 snapper – including three undersized – hidden under the floor of the boat.
Because of the quantity of fish and the obvious attempt to hide them, the boat was seized by the compliance officers, and taken back to MPI’s secure exhibits shed to be stored for the weekend.
When compliance officers arrived at work the following Monday they smelt something fishy – literally. They located the seized boat as the source of the smell, and after using a drill to remove a panel at the front of the boat, 208 rotting snapper were discovered in a compartment under the seat.
MPI District Compliance Manager, Manukau, Michael Greenstreet says the find is very disappointing as the catch and size limits are put in place to sustain our fish stocks for future generations.
'This kind of blatant disregard for the rules has the potential to ruin New Zealand fisheries for everyone' he says.
'If convicted of this offence the perpetrators could face a fine of up to $250,000, a community-based sentence, and forfeit any item used in the commission of the offence - in this case the vessel' says Mr Greenstreet.
However, Mr Greenstreet praises the keen observation skills of the compliance officers on duty.
'If it wasn’t for the great work of the officers involved, this offence would have gone undetected' he says.
Mr Greenstreet urges the public to report any suspicious fishing activity by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are kept strictly confidential.
'Despite the great work of our officers, we also rely on the public to let us know if they see any unlawful activity. We all have a part to play to protect our fisheries' he says.
For further information about fishing rules and limits visit Fish govt nz Alternatively, you can get up-to-date fishing rules with the free MPI fishing app by texting 'app' to 9889 or visiting Here