Paua offending keeps Fishery Officers busy
Fishery Officers in Invercargill have busted two paua poaching groups in recent days – one of which was caught with 316 undersize paua.
On Friday night (Nov 14) a vehicle traveling from Bluff to Invercargill was stopped, with the female driver and two male passengers questioned. Despite the trio initially denying any paua gathering, a search of the van found three partially concealed bags of paua.
Examination of the bags revealed 339 paua, of which 316 were identified as being undersize - the daily allowance is 10 paua per person, per day with a minimum legal size of 125mm in shell length. The paua and vehicle were seized by the Fishery Officers.
“This is one of the more significant paua seizures in Southland for quite some time. It’s disappointing because Paua theft on this scale can result in localised depletion of stocks and places paua accessibility for future generations in jeopardy,” says Invercargill District Compliance Manager, Reece Murphy.
“Fortunately the paua hadn’t been shucked (shelled) when Fishery Officers intervened, so after examination of the paua had been completed, all were able to be returned to the sea.
“Several fine days coinciding with low spring tides has seen increased fishing and diving activities in the region,” he says.
The two men in the group now face serious fisheries charges with penalties of up to $250,000.
Meanwhile, last week two other men were apprehended at Ocean Beach with 67 paua, including more than 30 which were undersized. This case is likely to result in court action.
Several other incidents occurred during the same week and are likely to result in infringement notices, between $250 and $500 being issued to offenders.
With the onset of the warmer weather Mr Murphy encouraged members of the public and coastal residents to assist in the on-going effort to curb illegal fishing activity. Anyone who witnesses any suspicious or illegal fishing should contact MFish on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224).
“People considering taking illegal seafood should remember – if you offend there is a good chance you will be caught,” he says.