BIG HAUL: Four people were found guilty for taking more than 500 pipi from Ohiwa Harbour last month, many of which were too small to eat. Photo supplied

FOUR men who took more than 5000 pipi from Ohiwa Harbour in Whakatane have been convicted and fined for their offending.

Joseph Te Owai Koopu, 47, pleaded guilty to possessing 1075 pipi when he appeared in the Whakatane District Court. He was convicted and fined $1500 and the vessel he used in the offending was forfeited to the Crown.

Pakeha Onekawea, 18, and Wharerangi Te Ahuru, 33, were convicted and fined $1400 and $1500 respectively plus $130 court costs each for jointly possessing 3562 pipi, many of which were too small to eat.

Riki Gavin Burnett, 47, was convicted and fined $900 plus court costs for possessing 620 pipi.

The daily limit for pipi collection is 150 per person.

All of the offending took place earlier this year.

Ministry for Primary Industries manager fisheries compliance Steve Ham said 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,” he said.

“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.”