12 months jail for recidivist paua thief
27 October 2009
On Friday 23 October in the Wellington District Court a Porirua man was convicted and sentenced to 12 months concurrent jail on three charges relating to paua poaching on the Wellington West coast. He had been charged with assault with a weapon, fishing while banned and possessing paua with intent to obtain a benefit.
The court heard that on 15 October 2008 Tulo Tuala and an associate gathered paua for several hours south of Titahi Bay. When a fishery officer intervened Mr Tuala ran away and was pursued by the fishery officer. The fishery officer got within reach of Mr Tuala, who started throwing large rocks at the fishery officer. The fishery officer was not struck by the rocks thrown and Mr Tuala was able to escape, leaving behind a pack containing 303 paua. Between Mr Tuala and his associate they had taken 523 paua
At the time if the incident Mr Tuala was a banned fisher as a result of previous paua offending.
In addition to a 12 months jail sentence, Judge Tuohy imposed another three year fishing ban on Mr Tuala.
MFish Regional Manager Ross Thurston said this case was a clear example of a recidivist offender who was not going to stop stealing paua unless he was in jail. He hoped the jail sentence will be a lesson to others that the full force of the fisheries law will be used for people who transgress the Fisheries Act.
“There is a limit of 10 paua per gatherer per day that can be taken so that there is enough paua for everyone to catch a decent feed today, tomorrow and in the future. In this case, Mr Tuala, who has amassed in excess of 30 fisheries convictions just arrogantly and blatantly ignored the warnings he had been given.”
“If people have information or suspect illegal fishing they should ring the MFish poacher line 0800 4POACHER (0800 476 224).”