Unsuspecting paua offenders caught
1 October 2004
Fishery officers apprehended three men with 300 paua at Big Bay in Fiordland on Thursday evening. Big Bay is a remote location in South Westland about 30km north of Milford Sound. The area is not accessible by road so it necessitated officers flying into the area by helicopter.
The small team of Invercargill and Dunedin based fishery officers was deployed as part of an operation planned to coincide with extremely low tides in the area. The Big Bay area was also known to be frequented at this time of year by whitebaiters.
"Once the officers arrived they simply 'blended into' the surroundings as they carried out surveillance in the area," said Ministry of Fisheries Invercargill District Compliance Manager Reece Murphy. "I think it would be fair to say the three unsuspecting offenders had not really anticipated the presence of fishery officers so far off the beaten track."
One of the those caught had taken 110 paua of which 102 were undersize, another had taken 110 paua including 30 undersize and the third man had 80 shucked (shelled) paua including many which were allegedly from undersize shells.
"Fortunately not all of the paua had been shucked so a significant number were able to be returned to the sea," said Mr Murphy.
The three offenders now face serious fisheries charges as a consequence of their actions and may each face fines up to $20,000.
The prescribed daily limit for paua is 10 for each fisher physically involved in the taking and the minimum legal size for ordinary paua is 125mm in shell length.