Paua poaching ring stopped in its tracks
18 September 2009
The Ministry of Fisheries today terminated an operation against a sophisticated ring of paua poachers transporting paua from the South Island to the North.
Fishery Officers from Auckland and Nelson followed a shipment of paua taken illegally from the Kaikoura coastline, processed in Nelson, then driven to an Auckland distributor.
MFish staff discovered the primary offender in possession of 112 kilograms of shucked paua, worth about $15,000 on the wholesale market, and two Vietnamese are being interviewed.
It is expected that further charges will be laid following further investigations and interviews in the Auckland and Nelson areas.
MFish Nelson District Compliance Manager Geoff Clark said he was “particularly annoyed” that this group of offenders had been apprehended because it appeared they were linked to the family of a recently convicted poacher.
“These greedy individuals have not learnt from their last brush with Fishery Officers. The threat they are posing to Kaikoura paua stocks is unacceptable and shows a total disregard for the long-term sustainability of this fishery,” Geoff Clark said.
If convicted, these people could face up to five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture of gear, boats and vehicles used in the commission of the offence.
Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley said he was “delighted” with the efforts of the Ministry’s frontline staff in detecting these offenders and following them to the Auckland distributor.
“However, it is very frustrating that these recidivist offenders continue to threaten the livelihoods of commercial fishers and the social and cultural benefits recreational and customary fishers enjoy in New Zealand,” Mr Heatley said.
“The Ministry will not lay off poachers until they, like most fishers do, comply with the laws and values of New Zealanders. These rules will be beefed up next month when the Government will implement a new rule to limit the number of paua people can have in their possession at any one time.”
The public are reminded that any suspicious activity on or near our beaches should be reported to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224).