More bad news for paua poachers
10 September 2009
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley today announced a new move to close the net around greedy paua poachers.
From October 1 the “accumulation defence” – claiming that large numbers of paua in your freezer are the result of many previous days fishing – will no longer wash.
“For years the accumulation defence has been used by fish thieves, black market operators and those abusing their catch entitlements to avoid prosecution. Those days are over,” Mr Heatley said.
The Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 will be changed for every area (except Fiordland) to restrict the amount of paua a person can have in their possession on any day.
This will be done by setting an accumulation limit of 20 paua, which is twice the daily bag limit, or the equivalent meat weight of paua (2.5 kgs). Maori customary rights are not affected by this change.
“The Government has sought to achieve a balance between restricting paua poaching and black market activity, and not being unreasonable to legitimate recreational fishers,” Mr Heatley said.
“Having assessed the submissions we received on the appropriate level, we believe that balance has been achieved.”
The new regulation comes as prosecution of a major paua poaching ring that had been operating in the Wellington region is close to successful conclusion and the Ministry of Fisheries’ strike rate against opportunistic poachers is improving.
The accumulation limit will help further with compliance activity at the points of storage, transport and export. The Ministry of Fisheries will work with Customs New Zealand to restrict the personal export of paua to the 20 paua or 2.5 kg meat weight accumulation limit in order to stop the export of large quantities of illegally caught paua.
Paua fishers are advised to carefully label their catch to make sure they meet the new rule, noting particularly the date of catch on bags and other containers.
“It comes back to the old adage, fish for a feed, not for the freezer,” Mr Heatley said.
If members of the public see any activity they think is suspicious, including large accumulations of paua in fresh or frozen form, they should call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224).