Fishers caught with nine times limit of snapper snatched from already-depleted Hauraki Gulf

A group of fishers have been fined over $10,000 after they were caught with nine times the legal limit of snapper from the Hauraki Gulf - which already has a depleting fish stock.

Earlier this year, Newshub revealed snappers in the Hauraki Gulf are suffering from starvation.

Fishers said many snapper caught in the Hauraki Gulf are in poor condition and have flaky, white fillets.

It's in the wider context of the gulf being in poor condition with numbers down in iconic species like crayfish, scallops and pāua.

The problem is not helped by overfishing in the area.

On Friday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said a group of recreational fishers were caught at the popular Half Moon Bay boat ramp with chilly bins filled with fish.

Inside the bins were a total of 348 fish, including nine times their collective daily limit for snapper.

The five fishers - Tai ah You (46), Laupagigi Tupua Siliva (69), Lameta Kasiano (49), Metai Fialelei Lotoa (58), and Avia Amosa (55) - went fishing in May 2022 in the Hauraki Gulf. The group caught 317 snapper, despite the daily limit per person being seven.

The group also had 19 kahawai, two John Dory, two gurnard, six jack mackerel, one kingfish and one blue mackerel, which they caught around the Noises islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

At least two of the five fishers knew the size and daily limit for snapper, and there was also a fish measurer on board their fishing vessel, MPI said.

The group pleaded guilty to all charges under the Fisheries Act and were all sentenced in the Manukau District Court on Thursday.

They were fined a total of $10,500 between them.

Along with the fines, the group's vessel and trailer was forfeited to the Crown, along with a range of fishing equipment and chilly bins. The skipper was ordered to pay a redemption fee of $5248 before the end of November.

The haul of fish.
The haul of fish. Photo credit: MPI

"The rules are there for a reason - to protect fishing resources for everyone. This was a lot of fish, and 95 of the snapper were undersize," MPI regional manager of fisheries compliance Andre Espinoza said.

"We would strongly encourage people to download the free NZ Fishing Rules mobile app which will provide you with the latest rules at your fingertips.

"If you follow the rules, you'll be doing your bit for sustainability and avoiding a large fine."