Fine after fisherman put endangered dolphins at risk

The endangered Hectors dolphin. Photo: File
The endangered Hectors dolphin. Photo: File
A commercial fisherman who put protected dolphins at risk has been fined nearly $12,000 and his vessel has been forfeited.

Lance Edmond Nicolson (34) was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after being found guilty following a judge-alone trial.

He was convicted of on one charge of using a set net within four nautical miles of the coast in waters off Otago.

The offending happened on six separate occasions between October 12 and November 6, 2019, and it was discovered through the Ministry of Primary Industry’s digital monitoring, which tracks fishing activity.

“Set netting can pose a risk to Hector's dolphins. Commercial fishers have a responsibility to be aware of what the regulations are in the area they are fishing, and ensure they comply,” said the ministry regional manager of fish compliance Garreth Jay.

“The rules are there for a reason and most people do the right thing and follow them closely. When they don’t, we will hold them to account.”

Nicolson reported setting and hauling set nets six times ranging from 295 metres to 1270 metres inside the banned area.

The fishing vessel, Charlotte Rose, was forfeited to the Crown, along with set nets.

Along with the fine, Nicolson was also ordered to pay costs of $2046 to the ministry.



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