Fishers fined for unlawful cockle gathering

A total of 991 cockles were seized.
A total of 991 cockles were seized. Photo credit: Supplied / MPI

Three people have been fined a total of $4000 after taking cockles from a closed site.

Jonathan Farrow-Russell,35, Milika Tulikihakau, 22, and Connie Carter Pooi, 24 were sentenced in the Manukau Magistrate's Court on Monday after taking the cockles from Auckland's Eastern Beach in March last year.

Farrow-Russell was found with 279 cockles, while Tulikihakau and Pooi were in possession of 712, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.

Eastern Beach is currently closed to shellfish gathering so the shellfish population can rebuild.

Despite the beach having 18 signs at the time of the incident, the group claimed they didn't know about the closure and hadn't seen the warnings.

Farrow-Russell was fined $1,000 fine plus $130 court costs, while Tulikihakau and Pooi were each fined $1500 plus $130 court costs.

"Taking cockles from a closed area, has the potential to seriously impact on the sustainability of cockle beds and the wider marine environment," MPI fisheries compliance regional manager Andre Espinoza said on Tuesday.

"People who don't respect the rules will be appropriately dealt with under the law.

"Protecting our precious marine resources is not just the responsibility of Fishery Officers. Those resources belong to New Zealand and we all have a responsibility to act as guardians of those resources for future generations."

There were 18 signs on the beach.
There were 18 signs on the beach. Photo credit: Supplied MPI

Anyone aware of suspicious fishing activity can call MPI on 0800 4 POACHER or email