Coromandel paua plundered
1 July 2010
A 28-year-old Opotiki man is facing a serious charge under the Fisheries Act after being found with more than 50 times the legal limit of paua.
Police found the man, who is suspected of being involved in the black market distribution of paua, in Auckland late at night, with 511 shucked paua.
Members of the public are allowed to take or possess a maximum of 10 paua per day.
According to Ministry of Fisheries Waikato/Bay of Plenty Field Operations Manager, Brendon Mikkelsen, the illegal paua is alleged to have been taken from the top of the Coromandel Peninsula area.
“Given the quantities involved and where and when it was seized, it seems certain that these paua were plundered from the Coromandel especially for sale on the black market in Auckland,” Mr Mikkelsen said.
Following the man’s apprehension in Auckland, houses in South Auckland, Opotiki and the Coromandel Peninsula’s Kennedy Bay were searched. The vehicle used to transport the paua from the Coromandel Peninsula to Auckland was seized and may be ordered forfeit to the Crown.
Brendon Mikkelsen said the man is now facing a serious black market charge under the Fisheries Act.
“If convicted, he could face imprisonment, fines of up to $250,000 and the permanent forfeiture of any property used in the commission of the offence, such as the vehicle that has already been seized,” he said.
“The poaching of our precious paua resource is a serious matter for both the Ministry and for the communities where this plunder occurs.
“These poachers are literally stealing from these communities and from our future generations.”
Brendon Mikkelsen urges anyone who sees illegal fishing activity to call the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).
“We all need to work together to protect our fishing resources for now and into the future,” he said.