Paua poaching at Whales
14 September 2010
Following up recent successes against paua poachers in Poverty Bay, yesterday Fishery Officers apprehended two men allegedly in possession of a significant quantity of illegal paua.
The men had attempted to evade the officers at a checkpoint in the Whales area of Wainui Beach. They drove their four wheel drive vehicle into a residential area where they were followed.
The Fishery Officers seized the vehicle as well as 66 paua, of which 63 were undersize – some as small as 88 millimetres when the legal minimum size is 125. The daily bag limit for paua is 10 per fisher per day.
The paua were returned to the sea, but many were unlikely to survive due to the poor gathering technique the men used.
Acting Poverty Bay Field Operations Manager Martin Williams said the men were likely to face serious charges in the near future.
“It is disappointing that those involved in illegal gathering are constantly failing to stop for Fishery Officers,” Mr Williams said. “These people need to realise that the consequences of doing this are far more serious than just being caught with illegal seafood.”
As well as any fines they receive, up to $250,000 in the most serious cases, offenders risk automatic forfeiture of vehicles and equipment used in the offending.
“This is only the start of warmer weather and good low tides, but already we have some people taking large amounts of illegal paua and being obstructive to Fishery Officers,” Mr Williams said.
“I remind gatherers that removing paua with sharp instruments such as knives or screwdrivers damages them. Paua cannot clot blood when cut, so the smallest nick can result in death.
“If the paua survives the cut, the blood attracts predators and it may be killed before it has a chance to clamp down on the rocks. Many of the paua seized in this incident were damaged and cut, which means they will have a poor survival rate.”
The Ministry provides free plastic knives which also measure paua in an effort to reduce mortality. Members of the public are invited to call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) if they see anything suspicious.