Cockle doodle don’t: Poachers anger local residents

A local woman has persuaded a group of alleged cockle poachers, to return the molluscs to the ocean after confronting them on Cockle Bay beach.

The beach is currently in closed season for collection. A 50-cockle seasonal limit is in place at the beach between May and September.

Howick Ratepayer and Residents chair Matthew Brajkovich received a call from a woman who had recently witnessed a group taking cockles during closed season. He advised her to firstly stay safe, then advised her to call the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) poacher line, followed by her asking the poachers to put them back.

Brajkovich believed the cockles were returned “after a very long walk out”.

In another recent case, Brajkovich says he found three people with two large bags full of cockles and asked them to return them.

“What was really concerning was when I told them to put them back, they dumped all the cockles in the beach rubbish bin,” he says.

In another case from December 2019, an honorary fishing officer approached a party who had poached 1800 cockles. The cockles were all returned to the sea.

An honorary fishing officer returned 1800 cockles collected outside of harvest season. Photo supplied

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross has been championing his case to convince  the Minister of Fisheries to close Cockle Bay to all shellfish harvesting for at least five years, to allow the beach to recover’, and delivered a petition to fisheries Minister Stuart Nash recently.

Nash has ordered a new survey of the beach to take place in February, something Ross hopes will “likely see a rahui or ban placed on the collecting of all shellfish”.