A commercial fisher from Tolaga Bay has been fined $5500 for bringing in 147 undersized rock lobsters.
After the Ministry for Primary Industries successfully prosecuted Richard Te Teira Meihana (46) on one offence under the Fisheries Act, he was sentenced in the Gisborne District Court this week.
Meihana, the skipper of the Aruana III, used Connie Irene Pewhairangi-Potae's commercial fishing licence on January 20–21, 2021; she was the vessel's owner and was accused and found guilty under the Fisheries Act.
The legal size for landing spiny red rock lobster from CRA 3 area is 54mm for males and 60 mm for females.
Additionally, during the months of June, July, and August, male rock lobsters with a tail width of 52 mm may be caught.
Although the boat had both measurement devices, Meihana was using the instrument from the concession period to measure the rock lobster.
“Fisheries New Zealand expects commercial fishers to know the rules around catch and size limits. Rock lobster is a high-end kaimoana and taking these fish undersize threatens sustainability. The rules are there for a reason and when we find they’re not being followed, we will take action,“ Fisheries NZ regional manager fisheries compliance Jodie Cole says.
All 147 undersized rock lobsters were returned to the sea alive.
Pewhairangi-Potae, aged 69, was convicted and discharged. Her vessel was forfeited to the Crown along with an outboard engine and tandem trailer.
“Our job is to protect the fishing resources to ensure they’re sustainable into the future. Taking undersize rock lobster may have been a mistake – but it has consequences,” Cole says.