Northland fishery patrols net paua pillagers
23 December 2010
Northland's Fishery Officers have been mounting a concerted effort to curb paua offending on west coast beaches as Christmas approaches.
In three days of patrols focusing on the coastline between Kawerua and Waimamaku in the Hokianga, 11 people have been apprehended; two 4 wheel drive vehicles seized; and 480 paua, 474 of which were undersize, were confiscated and returned to the sea.
One group of three Whangarei men where apprehended with 300 paua, 294 of which were undersize. Their 4 wheel drive vehicle and all the dive gear they used has been seized and they will be appearing in court to face serious charges under the Fisheries Act.
A second group of two local Hokianga men were apprehended a short time later with 117 paua all of which were undersize. Their dive gear was also seized and court action will follow.
In the worst of the offending a Dargaville man failed to stop at a fisheries checkpoint near Waipoua forest and in a separate incident a Hokianga man failed to stop at a checkpoint at Waimamaku. As a result the Dargaville man has had his vehicle seized and now faces serious charges for breaches of the Fisheries Act. The Waimamaku man also faces serious charges for breaches of the Fisheries Act and enquiries are continuing to locate and seize his vehicle. Upon conviction both men face a fine of up to $250,000 and the forfeiture of their vehicles.
Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards described the offending uncovered as deliberate and blatant. "These people are stealing kaimoana from all of us with no regard for the future of our paua stocks," he said.
This area of coastline is extremely weather dependant and unfortunately some people take large quantities of paua when weather conditions allow.
"People need to be mindful that this is only a small piece of coastline with a fishery that comes under significant fishing pressure at these times," Mr Edwards said. "The sort of plundering we have seen cannot be sustained."
Fishery Officers will continue to monitor fishing around Northland over the summer and actively seek out those who choose to flout fishing rules.
"Fishery Officers can be anywhere at any time," Mr Edwards said. "People need to make sure they know the rules before they go fishing and follow them when they are out on the water."
The daily limit for paua is 10 per diver with a minimum size limit of 125 mm. Fishing rules are available on the Ministry of Fisheries website, www.fish.govt.nz
Fishery Officers need the public's support to make sure we will have fish for future generations to catch. Mr Edwards encourages people to report any suspicious or illegal fishing activity using the Ministry's freephone number, 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).