Poachers leave with bellies full of shellfish

Date: 3/2/2009

Shellfish gathering at Cockle Bay (Auckland, New Zealand) is banned for two years from October to the end of April to prevent cockles from being poached. Up to 30 people at a time were caught sitting in waist-deep water having a feed says Fisheries Ministry district compliance manager Ian Bright. Some are sitting for a couple of hours opening and eating the cockles in the water. ‘Those approached say they’re not taking them – we then explain carefully that yes, they are.’ He says if you want to get technical, they’re concealing them in their stomachs. Nearby Eastern Beach has been closed for 10 years and it still hasn’t recovered. Under the Fisheries Act any breaches of closures designed to sustain stocks are deemed serious offending and if prosecuted, people face fines of up to $100,000.

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