Court convictions and fines for taking thousands of pipi

A group of men who took more than 5,000 pipi from Ohiwa Harbour in Whakatāne have been convicted and fined for their offending.

Riki Gavin Burnett, 47, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing 620 pipi and was convicted and fined $900 plus $130 court costs when he appeared in the Whakatāne District Court earlier this week.

The daily limit for pipi collection is 150 per person.

Forty-seven-year-old Joseph Te Owai Koopu pleaded guilty to possessing 1,075 pipi. He was convicted and fined $1,500 and the vessel he used in the offending was forfeited to the Crown.

Pākehā Onekawea, 18, and Wharerangi Te Ahuru, 33, were convicted and fined $1,400 and $1,500 respectively plus $130 court costs each for jointly possessing 3,562 pipi, many of which were too small to eat.

All of the offending took place earlier this year.

Ministry for Primary Industries manager fisheries compliance Steve Ham says all cases were very disappointing.

“This type of offending presents a serious threat to this valuable resource, and has a profound impact on the sustainability of pipi stocks in the area,” says Mr Ham.

“It leads to significant consequences for the local ecology and dependant species, as well as depriving other members of the community from a fair share of the resource.

“Our message to people is to please just take enough for a feed and respect the daily take limits. They’re in place for a reason. We all have a responsibility to ensure the sustainability of a precious resource and environment when gathering kaimoana.”