33 apprehended for Northland paua poaching
3 October 2011
Fishery Officers have apprehended 33 people allegedly offending in the paua fishery along Northland’s west coast.
Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards said the fishers were spotted between Kawerua and Ahipara in the far north during three days of targeted patrols coinciding with the moon tides.
“All were found to be in possession of undersize paua, with the worst offending seeing one diver with 42 paua, more than four times the daily allowable limit,” Mr Edwards said.
The daily bag limit for paua is 10 per diver per day with a minimum size of 125 millimetres. Penalties for breaching these rules range from infringement notices to prosecutions with fines of between $250 and $250,000 and the possible seizure of dive gear, boats and vehicles.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley said he was very concerned to hear reports of fisheries theft coming in from around the country before the high season even gets into swing. “It’s sickening to learn this sort of thing’s still going on, especially in my own back yard,” Mr Heatley said. “I know Fishery Officers everywhere are gearing up to head off the threat to our fishstocks and I support them every step of the way.”
Darren Edwards said paua stocks on Northland’s west coast are finite, but local people keep applying the pressure by taking undersize and excess amounts and showing no remorse for their actions.
“With daylight saving and the warmer weather now upon us, Fishery Officers will be actively patrolling our west coast to make sure divers are reminded that if they offend in this fishery they will be caught.”
Fishery Officers can’t be everywhere and the public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).