Vehicles seized after harbour paua bust
8 August 2007
Fifty kilograms of paua has been seized in the last two weeks in Wellington Harbour as a result of two unrelated incidents detected by vigilant fisheries patrols. Two vessels and two vehicles have also been seized.
Ministry of Fisheries Wellington District Compliance Manager, Ross Thurston, says that as a result of the patrol catches four men will be facing serious Fisheries Act charges.
On Monday 23 July Fishery Officers watched a man dive in the Wellington Harbour and shuck 27 kilos of paua which he then carried on his vessel to another area. After hiding the paua the same diver drove his vehicle to that area to recover the paua. He was intercepted by Fishery Officers.
On Thursday 2 August a second unrelated man was seen by a fisheries patrol to dive and shuck 20 kilos of paua. He too took the paua to another location to be picked up by the diver’s associate. A fisheries patrol intercepted that haul.
As a result of the two incidents Ministry of Fisheries staff seized a Toyota Surf and a Ford Falcon along with two 12 foot fibreglass runabouts.
During the second incident, the diver hit some rocks and the Police Maritime Unit assisted in the rescue of that diver.
People involved in the black market paua trade face serious Fisheries Act charges and face up to five years in prison and/or $250,000 fines if convicted.
“These catches have been significant but it is worrying that divers are putting their lives at risk to steal paua. What is also of concern is that while we are catching these divers we do not know where the paua is going to,” Mr Thurston says. “With the commercial price of paua at about $100 a kilo the value of this find is in the vicinity of $5,000.”