Hawke’s Bay Fishery Officers intercept illegal paua haul
8 December 2009
Last weekend Fishery Officers assisted by Police stopped and searched a car leaving Hawke’s Bay’s Waipatiki Beach.
They found 611 shucked paua concealed in two backpacks in the car’s boot. The illegal paua, as well as the car and dive gear, have been seized and impounded. These may be forfeited to the Crown if the alleged offenders are convicted.
The search followed a tip-off to Fishery Officers from a concerned member of the public about the suspicious activity of two divers who had been in the water for a long time.
Ray McKay, Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager for Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa, said that two men would be likely to face charges under the Fisheries Act 1996.
“The number of paua the men were found with and the very small size of some of their haul was extremely disappointing and showed little consideration for the future of our paua fisheries,” Mr McKay said. The smallest paua weighed only 18 grams and was smaller than a matchbox.
The minimum legal size for paua in Hawke’s Bay is 125 millimetres, measured across the widest part of the shell. The daily bag limit is 10 paua per fisher per day.
“Fishery Officers have stepped up patrol activity of Hawke’s Bay beaches since Labour Weekend. While some breaches of fisheries regulations have been detected, most offending until now has not been serious,” Mr McKay said.
This is the largest seizure in Hawke’s Bay since this time last year when over 500 paua were seized from divers at Ocean Beach near Hastings and a similar number at Blackhead Beach in Central Hawke’s Bay.
“We were very grateful that a member of the public took responsibility to report this suspicious activity,” Mr McKay said. “Fishery Officers, Honorary Fisher Officers and the public are all guardians of our fisheries. Every Fish Counts this summer: He kaitiaki tätou katoa. Please don’t hesitate to report any suspicious activity on and around our beaches to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).”
For the latest fishing rules, including information on the new “accumulation” limit for paua, contact your local Ministry of Fisheries office or visit the Ministry’s website.