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Early last month the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) conducted a vessel patrol on the Wairoa River and seized 14 recreational gill nets.

The majority of the nets, set between the Waiau River and Wairoa River mouth, were seized due to incorrect markings on attached surface floats. The Amateur Fishing Regulations requires that all set nets must have a surface float at each end of the net which are permanently marked with a person’s initials and surname.

A number of those nets were also illegally set because they were staked, set within 60 metres of another net, or were set in such a manner that they covered more than a quarter of a channel in the river, says MPI Napier District Compliance Manager, Ray McKay.

“Fishers also needed to be aware that a set net is not allowed to exceed 60 metres in length and that only one gill net is permitted to be used on board a vessel, with the exception of a bait net. Bait nets cannot exceed 10 metres in length and the net mesh cannot be less than 50 millimetres.”

Other common netting issues also include the use of incorrect mesh sizes with nets used for Kahawai, Grey Mullet and flatfish. Nets set to target these fishes are required to be 100 millimetres in mesh size.

Mr McKay says that the purpose of the patrol was to encourage voluntary compliance with Amateur Fishing Regulations and in that regard a number of nets had since been returned to their owners along with some education on the rules from Compliance Officers.

“While only warnings resulted from this activity, MPI will not hesitate to issue infringement notices or prosecution in future if we continue to see non-compliance.”

Information on fishing rules can be obtained by visiting the Ministry’s website at https://mpi.govt.nz/travel-and-recreation/fishing/fishing-rules/. MPI also encourages people to take advantage of the free mobile services. Text 'app' to 9889 to download the New Zealand fishing rules smartphone app or text the name of the species you are fishing for and you'll receive the size and limit number by return text. Texts are free.

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