Imprisonment for paua poacher
13 April 2006
“The sentencing of a Porirua man to 12 months imprisonment this morning sends a strong message to poachers”, says Wellington District Compliance Manager Ross Thurston.
Tulo Tuala was sentenced after appearing at Wellington District Court on two separate charges relating to paua offending. He pleaded guilty to both charges.
On 19 July 2004 Mr Tuala and co-defendant, John Palmer were apprehended by fishery officers at Makara beach with 597 individual shucked paua. The paua had an estimated value of $15,000. The Crown submitted that the paua were intended for sale.
Mr Palmer was sentenced to 400 hours of community work on 25 November 2005. Mr Tuala pleaded guilty in December 2005. However, while he was waiting to be sentenced he was again caught breaching the Fisheries Act.
On 22 March 2006 Mr Tuala and an associate were apprehended at McKay’s Crossing, Paraparaumu, with 1,305 individual shucked paua, of which 521 were undersized. The paua were in 14 plastic bags and had an estimated value of $29,000. Mr Tuala explained that he was on his way to Auckland to sell the paua.
The offences were in breach of section 233 of the Fisheries Act 1996, which carries a maximum five years imprisonment and/or $250,000 fine, and/or a community based sentence.
Along with the 12 month prison sentence, Mr Tuala has been banned from fishing for three years. The paua, two vehicles, an inflatable dinghy, outboard motor and dive gear were forfeited to the Crown.
Mr Thurston said the sentence sent a clear message to people who repeatedly break the rules. “Fisheries rules are there to protect the resource for the whole population. People like Mr Tuala who continue to take more than their fair share can do great damage to the sustainability of our fisheries. Anyone thinking about ignoring fishing regulations for their own benefit should be aware that their chances of being caught are high and the consequences serious.”
Mr Thurston said if people see any suspicious fishing activity they should call 0800 4POACHER to report it.