Prison for persistent paua poacher
12 November 2010
The Ministry of Fisheries has today announced the sentences handed down to the last three members of the Wellington paua poaching ring known as the Rock Point Group.
The nine offenders were apprehended by Fishery Officers in September 2009 in a remote location called “Rock Point” on Wellington’s west coast, south of Titahi Bay near Porirua.
Fishery Officers found 1,182 paua in 10 white sacks hidden along the coast and in a camp set up by the offenders. Some of the paua were shucked (shelled) and many were still in their shells.
“This was serious offending. The number of paua this group had stolen was grossly in excess of the daily bag limit and many of them were undersize,” said Ministry of Fisheries Wellington Field Operations Manager Mike Green.
A total of 587 of the 700 paua in their shells were less than 125 millimetres in size and 217 of the 482 shucked paua weighed less than 80 grams, so were deemed to have come from shells under 125 millimetres.
“This sort of offending puts the local paua fishery at risk and we will continue to target people who engage in it,” Mr Green said.
“One of the poachers sentenced today, Tulo Tuala, has now amassed 39 separate fisheries convictions including repeated paua poaching and obstruction of fishery officers,” Mr Green said. “He was sentenced today to three years in prison and has been banned from all fishing for three years.”
The other two poachers were sentenced to seven months home detention and 300 hours community service.
Six of the nine offenders have already been sentenced, two to terms of imprisonment, one to community detention and the others to home detention.
The bag limit for paua is 10 per person per day and the minimum size is 125 millimetres across the longest part of the shell. They must be landed in the shell and cannot be shucked at sea. The maximum number of paua people can have in their possession at any one time is 20, or a maximum shucked weight of 2.5 kilograms.
New Zealand’s fisheries belong to all of us and we all need to play our part as 4 million guardians of our coastline. The Ministry of Fisheries encourages members of the public to be vigilant and to report anything suspicious by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).