Paua Poachers caught at Tutukaka
27 October 2004
Honorary Fishery Officers caught four men in possession of 298 undersize paua on Labour Day at Tutukaka, Northland.
While the two HFOs were checking the six metre boat at the Kowharewa Bay boat ramp, a fisher reported that he saw the crew throw shell fish from the back of the vessel when they spotted the HFOs at the boat ramp.
A diver subsequently recovered about 80 undersize paua from the seabed where they had been thrown, and a further 218 were found hidden in various parts of the boat. The paua ranged in size from 70mm to 106mm - the legal size is 125mm and the maximum daily take is 10 paua per person.
The paua were all taken from the Goat Island area.
The Ministry of Fisheries has seized the $20,000 vessel and all the dive gear and three men will face serious charges under the Fisheries Act 1996, which imposes penalties up to $250,000 and forfeiture of the vessel.
"I am very disappointed to see such greed and blatant disregard for the Fisheries regulations," said Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance Manager in Northland, Dave Turner. "The taking of so many small paua from such a restricted area seriously risks the future sustainability of those paua stocks."
Mr Turner said that special thanks were due Honorary Fishery Officers in Northland for the great work they are doing. "The public must remember that these men are unpaid volunteers who have a passion for conserving our Fisheries resources," he said.
The Ministry of Fisheries reported a busy Labour Weekend, especially on the West Coast. Two people are to be prosecuted for taking over 400 mussels and a further six were issued infringement notices for offences such as excess shellfish and undersize finfish.