Black market paua convictions
22 November 2007
Two Auckland men have been convicted of buying black market paua that had been poached from the Wellington coast.
Sheyechangetu Wang, 26, of central Auckland was fined $2000 and had his Honda car valued at $2,000 forfeited to the Crown. Zhi Xian Chen, 22, of central Auckland, was fined $500. Both appeared in Auckland District Court on 19th November 2007.
Ministry of Fisheries investigations manager Mark Nicholson said in March Mr Wang bought 30 kilograms of illegal paua from a man in two separate purchases, paying $48 per kg. Mr Wang later sold 10kg of paua to Mr Chen.
Mr Nicholson said the man selling the paua had been supplied by a group of divers who had taken paua from the Wellington coast at Wainuioumata. Fishery officers had been tipped off to the divers’ operation and were able to trace the paua to the point of sale.
Mr Nicholson said this sort of black market operation threatens the sustainability of paua stocks throughout the country.
“Paua are enjoyed by customary and recreational fishers, and support a $50 million a year commercial industry. Protecting the future of the paua fishery is one of our highest priorities.”
“Anyone who sees suspicious activity around fishing or the selling of fish, please call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224) straight away. Everyone has a stake in our fisheries and fresh information gives fishery officers a better chance of catching those who ignore the rules.
The man who sold the paua is also facing Fisheries Act charges.
In 2005 the commercial catch of paua was 714 tonnes. This sold for $50.2 million dollars.
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.
Quotas are needed so fish stocks are managed sustainably, so commercial, recreational and customary fishers can harvest similar amounts each year in the future.
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. Much of the Wellington south coast, Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay coasts fall into this category.
- Some stolen paua ends up in restaurants in New Zealand, but most gets smuggled overseas.