Police stop paua thieves
7 March 2011
Paua poachers on the Coromandel this summer have not only needed to avoid Fishery Officers and Honorary Fishery Officers, they have had to steer clear of police as well.
On two occasions during the last few months police have stopped vehicles on the peninsula and have discovered fishers with well over their daily legal limit of paua and in possession of undersized paua.
In the first incident, in mid January, local police stopped three south Auckland men as they were driving out of Tairua. A search of their vehicle uncovered 129 paua. All had been taken from the Tairua area and all were under the legal minimum size of 125 millimetres. The men were each entitled to take 10 paua each.
Fishery Officers charged the three offenders with possession of excess and undersize paua and their late model Honda station wagon was seized.
In the second incident a few weeks later, police at Port Jackson stopped another three men as they were driving a vehicle stolen from further south. A search of the vehicle revealed 54 paua, all of which were under the legal minimum size.
All three now face the prospect of $500 infringement fines in addition to any charges the police might bring in relation to the stolen vehicle.
Ministry of Fisheries Bay of Plenty/Waikato/Coromandel Field Operations Manager Brendon Mikkelsen says those who are intent on plundering the region’s fisheries should be aware that under the Fisheries Act 1996, all police officers are also Fishery Officers.
“A police officer can exercise all the powers of a Fishery Officer,” he says. “This means they can, if they have reasonable grounds, stop and search a vehicle if they believe its occupants have been involved in fisheries offending.”
Mr Mikkelsen says it is sad to see “the greedy few” continuing to plunder the Coromandel’s paua beds.
“There are virtually no legal size paua on the Coromandel,” he says. “This means those go paua fishing have to be very careful if they are not going to break the law.
“They also need to realise that, if they do take excess or undersize paua, they need to look out for responsible members of the public as well.
“The fish thieves need to understand that there are now 4 million guardians helping to keep an eye on our fisheries and who are ready and willing to ring the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number when they see something suspicious.”
Members of the public who see any unlawful activity, including suspected poaching or offering seafood for sale on the black market) to call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) in confidence.