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Gang member stealing scallops: MPI

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/02/2017

Eagle-eyed Northland citizens have prevented two men, including one wearing gang colours, from walking off with more than 300 undersized scallops. © @MPI_NZ / Twitter Eagle-eyed Northland citizens have prevented two men, including one wearing gang colours, from walking off with more than 300 undersized scallops. Authorities are praising two eagle-eyed Northland citizens for dobbing in scuba divers making off with more than 300 undersized scallops.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' Stephen Rudsdale says a fisheries officer immediately went to check the beach in Whangerei Heads after the first member of the public phoned authorities.

The officer "found one of the divers emerging from the water carrying a catch-bag of 19 scallops" Mr Rudsdale said.

"During the inspection, one of our officer's was allegedly threatened by one of the divers," he said.

"When they subsequently searched the area, they found 52 scallops dumped on the water's edge and a catch-bag containing another 176 scallops in the water."

Later in the evening, the MPI got a another call from a different person reporting two men acting suspiciously in the same area.

Fisheries officers then stopped a vehicle driven by the two men and recognised them as the divers from earlier in the morning. 

"The officers found two dive catch-bags containing a total of 318 scallops in the back of the vehicle," Mr Rudsdale said.

In total, the men allegedly took 565 scallops with more than 300 being under the legal size of 100mm, he said.

"The daily limit per diver is 20 scallops," he said.

During the vehicle stop the two men, aged 30 and 38, one of whom was wearing gang insignia, became aggressive and threatened the officers.

They now face charges of possessing excess and undersized scallops and threatening fisheries officers.

Their 1997 Toyota Camry station wagon and dive gear was seized.

Some of the scallops were able to be returned to the sea.

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