Hefty fine handed to illegal whitebaiters

Three men caught taking whitebait from the Waitutu area of Fiordland National Park will pay for their illegal haul.

Judge Stephen Harrop fined David Egerton (54), of Otautau, Michael Egerton (45), of Tuatapere and Allan Rickard (52), of Cromwell $5625 each, and had their nets forfeited after they were found guilty following a judge-alone trial in February.

At sentencing last month, Judge Harrop said the sentence was to deter the men and others and denounce the defendants’ conduct.

‘‘While the defendants had complied with the Whitebait Fishing Regulations, separate authority is still needed to fish in the national park.’’

The sanctity of national parks is enshrined in legislation, Judge Harrop said.

Department of Conservation spokesman Colin Bishop yesterday said the sentences would be a good deterrent.

“We have spent a lot of time and energy on educating people and communicating directly with fishers in this area about where they can and can’t fish. Whitebaiting in national parks without authorisation is illegal,’’ he said.

“Most people do follow the rules — this sentence will be a good deterrent to anyone who was considering otherwise.”

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