Large paua seizure in Eastern Bay of Plenty
22 February 2011Weekend Ministry of Fisheries patrols in the Eastern Bay of Plenty area saw the seizure of 199 illegal paua from divers operating in Whanarua Bay.
Poverty Bay Field Operations Manager Tom Teneti said patrols were targeting the favourable low tide period and fine weather. “The 200 illegal seized paua were taken from various divers who had disregarded the regulations that apply to size and daily limits of paua,” he said.
“The biggest haul from a single group saw 169 paua being seized of which the majority were undersize - below the minimum size limit of 125 millimetres.”
Investigations are continuing in relation to this incident and it is likely those involved will face prosecution. If convicted they risk the loss of the vehicle used in committing the offence and hefty fines.
Infringement notices will be issued to two individuals who also took excess and undersize paua, with the cost to each offender likely to be $500.
“The incident is a timely reminder that if you intend to fish for customary purposes you need to obtain the appropriate customary authorisation if gathering in a gazetted area,” Mr Teneti said.
“You need to make sure that if you are gathering for a traditional hui or tangi that you have a valid permit in your possession.
“If you are caught fishing without a valid authorisation you do not have a defence of exercising a legitimate customary fishing right and may be liable to prosecution if caught fishing in contravention of the amateur fishing regulations.”
If fishers are unsure about any matter relating to fishing for customary purposes they should contact a Fishery Officer in their area. A Fishery Officer can advise about legitimate permit issuers and all legal requirements in relation to fishing customary authorisations.
“If you do not understand how the system works and fish in contravention of the regulations, you could face serious consequences,” Mr Teneti said.
Recreational fishers are reminded that the minimum legal size of paua is 125 millimetres and the daily bag limit is 10 per fisher per day.
“The amount of illegal pressure on the paua stocks can contribute to local depletion so it’s in all our interests to stamp out such illegal fishing,” Mr Teneti said.
“Our summer message is that we have 4 million guardians of tangaroa – and we need the support of everyone to put an end to illegal fishing.”
If people have information or suspect illegal fishing anywhere, they should call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).