Poacher pays ‘high price’ for trout from hatchery
Trout poached from Fish & Game’s Ngongotaha hatchery were “anything but a free feed” for a Rotorua teenager who has paid dearly for his catch.
Nineteen year-old Duncan Scowen pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court to charges of fishing in hatchery ponds without a licence and being on the grounds unlawfully.
He was fined a total of $700, as well as prosecution and court costs.
Fish & Game says that action has also been taken against three other people.
The court heard that Scowen and his associates had entered the hatchery grounds after hours on four separate occasions in January this year, and “helped themselves” to fishing in the ponds, including one set aside for children’s ‘fish out’ days.
Fish & Game Regional Manager Andy Garrick says the offending was foolish in the extreme as the site is well protected by surveillance cameras which captured exactly what was happening.
“The group obviously believed they could get away with such blatantly cheeky poaching.”
As a result of the incidents, security on site has been increased even further to protect hatchery operations from this sort of invasion, Mr Garrick says.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued in the Wairoa District Court for a 49 year-old Auckland man facing charges of illegal gill netting at Hopuruahine at Lake Waikaremoana.
He also faced counts of taking rainbow and brown trout without a licence.
Fish & Game staff say the alleged poaching happened just after Christmas in an isolated part of Lake Waikaremona in Te Urewera.
Top right - brown trout in a gill net found at Lake Waikaremoana.
The case was initially handed by Police who handed it on to Fish & Game who investigated and issued a summons.
Mr Garrick says that while incidents of this nature are relatively uncommon, Fish & Game regards the use of gill nets to poach trout as serious offending.
“Nets are completely indiscriminate and can result in considerable damage not just to the trout fishery, but to other fish and bird species which may become tangled in a net.”
Mr Garrick says that “nets also pose a hazard to other water users – a boat propeller for example tangled in a net can have serious consequences”.