Paua poacher sentenced
25 May 2007
Kaikoura diver Anton Pinnell was sentenced to 140 hours community service and fined a total of $5,000 and court costs after earlier pleading guilty to taking 500 paua and 36 rock lobster from the Kaikoura area in March this year.
The maximum daily limit is ten paua and six rock lobster. Fisheries officers believe that the paua and rock lobster were destined to be sold on the black market in Christchurch.
Ministry of Fisheries Nelson district compliance manager Geoff Clark said taking such large amounts of paua and rock lobster undermines their future sustainability.
“If everybody acted like that we’d run out of fish pretty quickly.”
The judge recognised the seriousness of this, noting that the offending undermined the efforts of the Paua 3 Management Committee in their efforts to rebuild the sustainability of the paua fishery in the Kaikoura area through reseeding juvenile paua.
Judge Crosbie directed $3,000 of the $5,000 fine to be paid in reparation to the committee.
Mr Clark said fisheries officers caught Mr Pinnell after receiving information from a member of the public.
“It was quick thinking by the person involved to phone MFish, and it allowed us to catch a serious poacher. It’s heartening that people are looking out for the future of our fisheries.”
If people have information on illegal fishing anywhere on they should ring the MFish Poacher line 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
Background on paua and paua poaching
- Paua is New Zealand’s fifth most valuable fishery, behind squid, hoki, rock lobster and orange roughy.
- The customary and recreational sectors also value paua highly.
- Paua or abalone is highly sought after in parts of Asia and can fetch up to $100 a kilogram in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
- The price per kilogram, the coastal habitat they are found in (you don’t need a boat to get them), their compact size and ease of storage (freezing or drying) has made them a target for poaching.
- Paua is often found in isolated bays or remote, rocky coastlines, with difficult access and few houses. Policing these remote areas for poaching is difficult.
- Penalties are set at a maximum of $250,000 with forfeiture of vessels and vehicles possible to reflect the importance of protecting our fisheries.