Northland paua poachers apprehended
29 January 2010
In marked contrast to the responsible behaviour of most Northland fishers this summer, four men have been apprehended this week over serious alleged paua offences.
On Wednesday afternoon Rawene police stopped a vehicle in Opononi which was found to contain 134 paua, all of which were undersize. The driver of the vehicle, a 37-year-old local Hokianga man, was spoken to and his vehicle and dive gear were subsequently seized by the Ministry of Fisheries.
The following day, three men were apprehended by Fishery Officers at Waimamaku with 219 paua, all of which were undersize. Their vehicle and dive gear were seized and they will face court action.
“Offending on this scale is viewed as serious,” said Ministry of Fisheries Northland Field Operations Manager Darren Edwards. “Those caught can face fines of up to $250,000 and the loss of vehicles and any property used in the offending.
“These sorts of people continue to show a total disregard for the fisheries regulations and the sustainability of the local paua fishery,” Mr Edwards said. “Time and time again Fishery Officers, assisted by police, are finding that it’s local people who are extracting large amounts of paua from our shoreline.”
‘It’s very disappointing that the message ‘Every Fish Counts’ does not always seem to be getting through,” said Fisheries Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley. “When some people show no regard whatsoever for their local fishery it will be to their own detriment as well as to the detriment of the whole community.”
“Fishery Officers cannot be everywhere but we will concentrate our efforts in high-risk areas,” said Darren Edwards. “Where offending is detected it will be dealt with appropriately. We will continue to seize boats, vehicles and equipment used by those who commit serious breaches of the fisheries rules.”
The daily bag limit for paua is 10 per fisher per day, with a minimum size of 125 millimetres.
The public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the Ministry of Fisheries on freephone 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
Every Fish Counts. He kaitiaki tätou katoa