Paua seized in Wellington
17 March 2006 Media Statement
Almost 1000 paua have been seized from a group of four divers during a joint operation between the Ministry of Fisheries and Police.
Fishery officers, with the assistance of the Wellington dive squad and Maritime Police, conducted a surveillance operation yesterday after receiving information that a group of divers was taking excess paua in the Moa Point area of the Wellington south coast. The group took 985 paua over the space of approximately five hours, 90% of which were undersized. The minimum legal size for paua is 125mm and the daily quota for recreational fishers is 10 per person.
Four sets of dive gear were seized by fishery officers, and charges will be laid under the Fisheries Act. Fishery officer Aaron Mendoza said the divers were known to the Ministry and are to appear in court on Tuesday for fisheries offences relating to a previous operation in August 2005. "These people know the rules and think nothing of breaking them. They have no regard for the sustainability of the fishery.”
A Police dive team retrieved the paua, which had been concealed and tied off in sacks in the water. "The fact that the paua were left in the water gives them a better chance of survival. However, the crude means that the divers used to remove them from the rocks will mean some of the paua will die,” said Mr Mendoza.
District Compliance Manager Ross Thurston said the divers all have gang affiliations, a situation that is increasingly common. "There have been numerous occasions lately whereby fishers caught with illegal seafood in routine checks have been either patched gang members themselves or associates of a gang. This situation is increasing and is an area the Ministry will be looking at closely.”
Mr Thurston said he hopes the apprehension of these divers serves as a deterrent to anyone planning on plundering our fisheries resources. "People considering taking illegal seafood should remember - if you offend there is a good chance you will be caught.”
Note: Digital photographs of a fishery officer with some of the seized paua are available.
For further information contact:
District Compliance Manager
Ph: 04 576 8044
Mob: 027 445 5048