Men jailed for ‘disturbing’ spawning trout poaching
Three men have been charged with poaching 17 spawning trout from a highly valuable spawning stream in Rotorua.
The trio are due to appear in Rotorua District Court on August 25 charged with unlawful possession of sports fish.
On May 15 this year a car was spotted parked by the roadside near the stream at Lake Rotoiti.
Fish and Game, and police officers, went to investigate and found the group, including youths under 17, on private property near the closed spawning stream.
In their possession was 17 “freshly killed trout in spawning condition”, Fish and Game allege.
A poaching discovery so soon after two men were jailed for one of the worst incidents of poaching Fish and Game had ever seen was “disturbing”, officer Anthony van Dorp said.
“Trout poaching such as this has the potential to severely impact on the trout fisheries Fish & Game manages.”
Wild born rainbow trout often taken make up an important part of Lake Rotoiti’s fishery, supplementing hatchery raised fish and providing genetic diversity, he said.
“As the most popular trout fishing lake in the Rotorua district, the success of the Lake Rotoiti fishery contributes significantly to tourism and the regional economy.”
“The low survival rate of a female trout’s eggs drops further if spawning grounds are disturbed, and poachers walking through spawning streams is enough to damage or kill trout eggs and young trout fry which are at early stages in their lives and very vulnerable.”
In May this year David Pake Leef, 37, was sentenced to a total of four months’ jail for trout poaching and breach of bail charges in the Rotorua District Court.
Leef and co-accused Thomas Tawha, 43, were convicted in November 2014 of poaching as many as 60 spawning trout from the spawning stream near Lake Rotoiti.
Tawha, of Kawerau, was jailed for six months in April 2015.
Tawha and Leef had both refused legal counsel and claimed that, as tangata whenua, the court had no jurisdiction over them.
At the time, Judge Weir rejected their claims, saying they do not apply to trout as an introduced species.
Both men were found guilty of eight charges under the Conservation Act 1997.
The maximum penalty for trout poaching is two years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.
Some ‘interesting’ readers comments from Facebook:
Clark Reid That’s rubbish Ken White. I know many of people who indulge in this behavior and they are extremely “cash rich” due to other activities they indulge in which has little respect for law. Subsistence fishing happens in the Islands. Not in NZ.