Substantial sentence for paua possession
8 September 2009
Today in the Tauranga District Court Isaac Dale Bushell (41) pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing 166 paua, all of which were undersize.
The court heard that on 21 June 2009, Honorary Fishery Officers observed Bushell returning from the rocks around Town Point at Maketu carrying a sack up to the carpark at Newdicks Beach. The officers found 166 fresh and obviously undersized ordinary paua in the sack.
Bushell told the officers he had been gathering “heaps” and that he “does not bother” going to the customary permit issuers in the area because they either say no or ask too many questions. Bushell claimed that he stored the paua for future hui he attended. He said he knew they were all undersize, telling the officers that you couldn’t get legal ones in this area.
The 166 paua ranged in size from 66 to 105 millimetres. The individual daily limit for ordinary paua is 10 per person and the minimum size is 125 millimetres. Bushell was in possession of sufficient paua for 16 people’s individual daily entitlement.
Fisheries prosecutor Morgan Dunn told the Court that Bushell had appeared before the court in April this year and had been convicted for excess mussels at the same location.
In rejecting Bushell’s explanation for the offending, Judge Harding convicted and sentenced Bushell to 300 hours’ community work, saying the offender was aware of the need to get customary permits, and that he was not entitled to behave the way he had.
District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen said the sentence was a “substantial penalty” which would act as a deterrent to others who might be thinking about breaking the fishing rules. He said the paua fishery had suffered heavily in recent years from localised depletion.
“The minimum legal size enables three or four years of breeding and potential recruitment before the paua can be harvested,” Mr Mikkelsen said. “If paua are taken at a smaller size, as in this case, the chance that there will be a successful year of breeding and recruitment is reduced and the ability of paua to sustain itself is made less certain.”
If you see anything suspicious on or around our beaches, call 0800 4 POACHER.