Just to be clear, although this story is about something happening to a motorhomer. I will not name them or feature a photo of them or their motorhome. I have written the story more as a precautionary tale. So that others, if they chose, can learn from someone else’s mistake.
We had left Wenderholm at a reasonable hour to avoid the madness of Auckland’s traffic with an initial plan to drive through to Mangatwhiri for a short drive the following day into Zion Motorhomes in Pokeno. Where the motorhome was booked in for some work. However, plans changed and we decided to head for the water at Ray’s Rest instead. Still only a short drive the following day and a nicer outlook.
Time once again on arrival to get out and stretch the legs. The beach is one of those places that seems to change every time we visit. There is always something new to see, and at this time of year, it’s not hard to work out why this place is also known as the seabird coast.
There is apparently a rule at Ray’s Rest that you should park end on rather than parallel to the beach. But as you can see from the above photo, it’s not a rule, too many people take too seriously. You would think that the local council would, in their wisdom erect signage to this effect if they wanted it done.
There are lots of reasons that people visit here, but one of them that’s really popular is to put out a flounder net. The beach is ideal for this with extensive mudflats accessible at low tide and the prefered habitat of the fish. At the time of our arrival, there were a couple of nets out, including the motorhome next to us. We got talking with them, and they told us they were waiting for the tide to recede to then bring in the net.
Just before dinner time, the tide must have been at the right point as that’s when he started bringing in the net. Not that he actually brought the net to shore at that time. He had a fish bucket that floated next to him as he made his way down the net clearing the flounder. It wasn’t long before quite a crowd began to build watching the proceedings. Questions were asked about the right size, numbers allowed to be caught etc. Nobody standing on the shore really seemed to have the answers for this. But then they weren’t the ones with the net out.
After a while, the net had been emptied the bucket filled, and he waded back to shore. Now that everyone thought the excitement was over the crowd dispersed and he was left to clean the fish. Or so he thought!
He had barely started to work on cleaning the fish when an MPI (Ministry of Primary Industry) ute pulled up. Two fisheries officers exited the ute and introduced themselves. Asking to inspect the catch they then proceeded to lay them out both counting and measuring the fish. There are 2 limits for Flounder a maximum of 20 fish per person fishing and a minimum length of 23 cm.
Turns out that he had landed 43 flounder all of proper size. This over and above the undersize ones that went back directly into the sea from the net. However, 43 fish is over the maximum allowable catch of 20 fish per person. Giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing for assistance bringing in the catch from his partner. She even denied to the officers that she had assisted. Who had remained in the motorhome the whole time. They decided that he was entitled to keep 40 Flounder with 3 to be put back. This was even though they were all dead.
Next, it was out with their notebooks for a record of his name, address, phone number and motorhome registration number. They gave him the benefit of the doubt for a second time and let him off the $250.00 fine. It would have been $5000 if they had decided he fished on his own and was 23 fish over the limit.
Then the long walk of shame began in front of all the other motorhomers a 5-minute slog through the mud. To put back the 3 extra fish. A very lonely walk and not one I would have liked to do. You can see the muddy footprints in the photo above.
That evening we were treated to another fantastic sunset. We have been so blessed during this trip away with some absolutely spectacular photos for my album.
A couple of thoughts about this story. The person involved told me that they looked up the regulations before they went fishing. If that’s the case, then there is no excuse for what happened. From an outsiders point of view If you have the nets, waders and all the gear required to catch Flounder. Surely you have done this before and know what is right and what is wrong, so it’s only fair that you got busted.
Secondly, on top of the 40 fish they kept (giving none away) they went fishing again the next day. So how many fish do you really need and aren’t you being a bit selfish taking so many potentially depriving future generations? The following day we saw the Fisheries Officers pull over a ute and boat as they were driving along, so good to see them keeping the area monitored.
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