Forage hunting without a license costs $1,100

Forage hunting without a license costs $1,100

A scenic canal in the Mackenzie area, a popular spot for sport fishing.  (archive photo)

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A scenic canal in the Mackenzie area, a popular spot for sport fishing. (archive photo)

A 52-year-old man who was caught fishing without a licence, then obstructing a fisheries officer, has been found guilty and released from the Timaru District Court on Tuesday with fines and orders totaling $1,100.

Shane William Pritchard was caught fishing without a license by a Central South Island (CSI) Fish and Game officer at the Pukaki Waterway near Twizel in the Mackenzie District at 12.40pm on May 22 2023, the organisation’s lawyer, Letitia Glover, told the judge. Dominic Dravetsky.

Pritchard was asked to show his license but could not because he did not have it.

This crime is only good, usually amounting to about $500, but the situation got worse for the Milton man when he got into an argument and obstructed a fisheries officer when he told him his rod would be confiscated.

Pritchard told the officer he would not hand over the baton. Pritchard was then cautioned and charged with the more serious offense of obstructing a fisheries officer, which required him to appear in court, Glover said.

The defendant also failed to respond to various efforts to contact him, Glover said.

Lawyer John Black said his client was a sick profiteer with multiple health problems, and had made the mistake of “foraging”.

“It’s a fairly low-key event, but it’s not like a truckload of unsold paua,” Black said.

“What was not noted in the summary of facts was the real reason for his attitude towards the officer. The stick belonged to his father, who died by suicide last year.

“It had strong sentimental value to him.”

Black said his client had now accepted that he should have allowed the officer to take the baton, and had handed it over to court security staff before Tuesday’s hearing.

Glover confirmed that hunting without a license could be dealt with with a fine of about $300, but said the obstruction charge was usually “much higher,” and so it was up to the court to decide, “given the current financial situation” of the defendant.

Glover said CSI had made no order to seize and destroy the rod, and was encouraging the defendant to approach Fish and Game who could issue a license that could be paid in instalments.

Judge Dravetsky said he took into account the defendant’s background and understood the sentimental value of the penis.

“I take all that into consideration, and it’s a $300 fine for hunting without a license.”

The other matter is more serious and a much larger fine is usually imposed, Judge Dravetsky said.

“I consider a $500 fine appropriate in this case, plus a $300 contribution toward attorney costs.

“You’ll get your penis back, and it looks like you can get a license and pay it off over time.”

“A sport fishing license costs less than $24 a day per adult, which is a much cheaper and more reasonable option than being caught in breach of the law and being ordered to pay hefty fines and costs in court,” Hamish Stevens, compliance coordinator at CSI, said on Wednesday.

Pritchard’s fine comes after three men were fined and costs $6,700 in early November 2023 after they were caught fishing in the nearby Ohau Channel without licenses during the 2022 work weekend. One of the men was also found guilty of providing false and misleading details and another of exceeding the bag limit.

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