Alleged repeat paua thief nabbed in Gisborne
10 October 2011
The Ministry of Fisheries reported today that on Saturday 8 October a Gisborne Fishery Officer apprehended an alleged repeat offender in the local paua fishery. Due to the extent of the offending, a commercial poaching operation appeared to be a possibility.
Field Operations Manager Tom Teneti said that around mid morning an off duty Fishery Officer visiting Sponge Bay with his family noticed a male carrying a sports bag along the beach towards the carpark.
“On closer examination he recognised this person as one apprehended by Fishery Officers a week earlier with 213 paua taken from the same area,” Mr Teneti said. “The individual was intercepted on exiting the beach and an examination of the sports bag located 224 paua.”
By way of follow up, today Fishery Officers executed a warrant to enter the Gisborne address of the alleged offender. A further 745 undersize paua shells, some containing fresh paua meat remnants, were located buried at the rear of the property.
Mr Teneti said that while the numbers suggested a commercial operation, enquiries were yet to be completed and so far there was no evidence supporting this possibility.
“It’s a serious matter with potentially serious outcomes however you look at it,” he said.
The alleged offender appeared unconcerned that his activities would have a detrimental effect on the paua resource for future generations or about the negative impact it could have on the ability of local iwi to support customary events.
“Sadly this sort of attitude is common among fishers found offending in the Sponge Bay area,” Mr Teneti said. “Because this is a second alleged offence in as many weeks, this individual will face more serious charges as a result of his blatant disregard of the law. A term of imprisonment may be an option for the court to consider.
“It’s very disappointing that even with increased patrol and monitoring efforts recently, the message still doesn’t seem to be getting through. However, we’re determined to continue our efforts and a zero tolerance policy will be maintained.
“We can’t do it all on our own though – members of the public are our eyes and ears. If you see anything suspicious or illegal at Sponge Bay or anywhere else, please don’t hesitate to call 0800 4 POACHER in confidence.”