A Nelson fisherman has been convicted and fined $13,500 for commercial fishing in a protected marine reserve.
Colin Lyall Sharland, 59, was charged after fishing in the Kahurangi Marine Reserve on the West Coast of the South Island in December 2019.
Howard Reid, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regional manager of compliance for the Upper South Island, said Sharland did not intentionally enter the reserve to fish, however MPI had no tolerance for such acts.
"While we accept the skipper did not mean to fish in the marine reserve, these rules are in place for good reason – to protect the diversity of marine life on the sea floor and in the water. Protected marine life like the endangered Hector's dolphins, seals, and seabirds do visit these areas," Reid said on Wednesday.
"MPI expect fishers to know the rules before they go out, this includes knowing the location of the boundary lines for marine reserves and taking care to avoid them."
Reid said MPI became aware of Sharland's offending via an electronic monitoring system that tracks the entire commercial fishing fleet in near real time. An alert was triggered when Sharland's vessel entered the restricted area.
"On 31 December 2019, Mr Sharland, skippering Jay Belle, deployed a bottom trawl net when it was approximately 18.89km south of Kahurangi Marine reserve. The vessel travelled north and entered the reserve at approximately 7.30pm still towing the trawl net. The net travelled along the seafloor within the reserve for 1.5 hours, covering a distance of almost 9km," Reid said.
The estimated catch for the unlawful trawl was reported as 2097kg of fish, with an estimated wholesale value of $10,699.27, Reid said.
"It is estimated that a third of that catch was taken from the Kahurangi Marine Reserve, with a value of $3210. This is to be paid to Department of Conservation."