Men fined for tak­ing to­heroa

The Bay Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF RE­PORTER

Two North­land men have each been fined $500 af­ter been caught il­le­gally tak­ing more than 40 of the rare and cul­tur­ally pre­cious shell­fish, to­heroa, from 90 Mile Beach.

The to­heroa fish­ery was closed across New Zealand 35 years ago af­ter to­heroa num­bers be­gan to plum­met.

Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries spokesman Steve Ruds­dale says the in­ci­dent is ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing es­pe­cially when to­heroa on 90 Mile Beach are just be­gin­ning to re-es­tab­lish them­selves.

‘‘These two peo­ple took 43 to­heroa be­tween them which is a very large num­ber.

‘‘If this sort of il­le­gal take con­tin­ues, it won’t bode well for a fish­ery that is al­ready very frag­ile.

‘‘Even dis­turb­ing to­heroa can have an ex­tremely detri­men­tal ef­fect on them.’’

Ruds­dale says it’s im­por­tant to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween to­heroa and the more com­mon tu­atua.

To­heroa look very sim­i­lar to tu­atua how­ever tu­atua are much more pro­lific than to­heroa so they’re not sub­ject to the same ban on gath­er­ing.

To­heroa shells are more brit­tle and slightly rounder than tu­atua and have a slight lump at the base whereas tu­atua shells are slightly glossy com­pared to to­heroa and have a square, flat base.

A sim­ple test is to sit the shell­fish on its base on the sand with the sharp end stand­ing up.

A tu­atua should stay stand­ing, bal­anced on the flat base while the to­heroa should fall over.

The two species can be the same size and colour depend­ing on their age but to­heroa will even­tu­ally grow twice as big as tu­atua and have a darker shell.

‘‘We’ll be tak­ing a zero tol­er­ance ap­proach to any tak­ing of to­heroa in this area,’’ says Ruds­dale.

‘‘Fish­eries of­fi­cers will be out and about pa­trolling reg­u­larly as al­ways and I un­der­stand lo­cals will be step­ping up their ef­forts to pa­trol the beach as well.

‘‘The penalty for be­ing caught with up to 50 to­heroa or even dis­turb­ing them is a fine of up to $500.

‘‘If you are caught with more than 50 to­heroa, you face pros­e­cu­tion and a max­i­mum fine of $20,000.

‘‘There will be no ex­cuse for any of­fend­ing.’’

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