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Tongan men were sentenced to community work after being caught cockling illegally at Duders beach in Devonport, New Zealand.
Fishery officers made the discovery in the car boots before confronting the gatherers.
The beach is clearly sign-posted informing people that only 50 cockles are allowed to be taken per person.
However, this did not stop the group of Tongans from taking about 15,000 to 20,000 cockles.
Another man from the group threatened to break the honorary fishery officers’ camera.
It is unclear when this incident happened, but it was recorded live on video and has just been shared to Facebook by the Coast Rescue last week.
It showed the men were initially uncooperative but once they realised an arrest was obvious, they eventually became forthcoming.
“See the longer you muck us around the longer that you are going to be stuck here, alright”, one of the officers telling one of the men before he changed his answer and admitted that some bags of cockles seized by the officers were his.
“Where were you born?”, an officer asked one of the men.
“Tonga”, he replied.
“When” the officer asked again.
“August”, he replied.
“You just told me March”, the officer responded.
“I don’t think you are telling the truth aye. You are under arrest”.
“In March sorry”, the man replied again. The officer handcuffed him.
“You are under arrest for not telling me your details”.
He was arrested “for obstruction and giving false details”.
Two cars were also impounded “for having way in access in their possession”.
Under the Fisheries Act the officers have power to arrest offenders and confiscate their property.
All the cockles were returned to the sea.
According to the video, the offenders were convicted under the Fisheries Act and ordered to perform community service”.
The news came after a Tongan, Milika Tulihakau and others were fined $4,000 for illegal taking of 991 cockles from Auckland’s Eastern beach in 2021.
In that case, the group claimed they had not seen the signs and did not know the beach was closed to shellfish collection.
The limitation is imposed at beaches in order to rebuild the shellfish population.