Two Gisborne men have received prison sentences for illegally taking crayfish, kina and paua from an East Coast marine reserve.
Bec Eden Gray , 36, received an eight week prison term yesterday in the Gisborne District Court for taking protected marine life from the Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve just north of Gisborne in May last year.
Dwayne Rangi Lloyd, 31, who was also involved in the offence, received a six week prison sentence in November of last year.
The sentences are the longest handed down marine reserve offending to date and follow a joint operation between Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Fisheries (MinFish). The vehicle used in the offence has been forfeited to the Crown.
“This sends a very clear message that the judiciary and the agencies involved in protecting our marine reserves won’t tolerate them being plundered,” DOC Area Manager, Andy Bassett, said. “We are determined to protect them.”
MinFish Field Operations Manager Tom Teneti, said the prosecution was a good example of the Ministry working effectively with other agencies to catch fish thieves.
“Fishery Officers can’t be everywhere and we welcome all the support we can get to protect these reserves.”
The officers who made the apprehension reported that all the marine life seized during the offence was released back into the marine reserve. Part of the men’s catch contained 13 female crayfish carrying eggs, and 550,000 eggs that could have been lost to the ecosystem.
Members of the public seeing any suspicious or illegal activity in marine reserves or anywhere else can call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) or 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362 468).
The Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve was established in 1999 and was the result of many years work between DOC and Ngati Konohi.