Fish & Game nets 11 rogue anglers

Otago Fish & Game chief executive Niall Watson inspects  some of the fishing rods confiscated so...
Otago Fish & Game chief executive Niall Watson inspects some of the fishing rods confiscated so far this season. Photo by Christine O'Connor

Eleven rogue anglers been caught fishing illegally in a ''disappointing'' start to Otago's fishing season, Otago Fish & Game says.

''It hasn't been a great start to the season compliance-wise but I'm confident it will improve over time,'' operations manager Ian Hadland said this week.

Seven of the anglers were caught fishing before the start of the season, while another four have been caught fishing illegally since the season started just over a week ago.

Otago Fish & Game chief executive Niall Watson said there were more offences than normal this year.

''Usually, the people who fish at the beginning of the season are the keen anglers and they're the ones who are most compliant. So, normally, we'd expect to find offences around the summer holiday people, where people have a sudden rush to the head and decide to go fishing without a licence.''

He was not sure why there were more offenders this season - and this early in the season - than in previous years.

''It's just one of those blips that happens from time to time,'' he said.

''Maybe the weather encouraged people to go out - or just coincidence, really.''

Mr Watson said fines for illegal fishing depended on the situation, previous offences and the severity of the offence, but sometimes they edged up above $1000.

''With really minor technical offences, we often given warnings, and with other offences we may offer reparation in the first instance but, otherwise, if it's a more complicated offence, or a second offence, then matters usually go to court.''

It was easy enough to get a fishing licence, Mr Watson said, and he hoped the compliance team would not find many more offenders.

''It [costs] everyone time and trouble.''

carla.green@odt.co.nz

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