A labourer and fisherman have been fined over NZ$4,000, and their vessel forfeited, for their part in operating a vessel in a manner that caused unnecessary danger to others and for obstructing a Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officer from searching their vessel for illegal catch.
Patrick Keefe, 50, and Selwyn Crowley, 65, both pleaded guilty to two charges under the Fisheries Act 1996. Mr Keefe also pleaded guilty to one charge under the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
The two men were sentenced in the Hastings District Court on Wednesday, August 11.
Due to his personal circumstances, Mr Keefe’s fine of NZ$4,400 was converted to 180 hours of community service.
The charges were related to an incident on March 13, 2019, when MPI fishery officers were conducting a vessel patrol near Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay.
Mr Keefe was the master of a 5.5-metre, aluminium pontoon vessel powered by a single motor. Mr Crowley was on board the vessel.
A fishery officer patrolling from a clearly marked fisheries vessel repeatedly gestured and shouted for to the men to stop. Mr Keefe acknowledged the fishery officers by waving.
The boat sped away through a gap in a reef, after narrowly avoiding a collision with the fisheries vessel, in an effort to evade the fishery officers. Also, the vessel’s passenger, Mr Crowley, was seen dumping paua overboard.
Mr Keefe then turned the boat towards the fishery officers’ vessel at speed, narrowly missing them by three metres.
When Mr Keefe had stopped the vessel, he produced a customary authorisation.
Later, when the vessel’s catch was inspected, fishery officers located 151 paua, of which 34 measured less than the stipulated minimum size. This was in breach of the conditions on the customary authorisation.
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