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Paua industry applauds the capture of crime ring

28 May 2008

Paua fishing industry applauds the capture of a crime ring of fish thieves

“Paua thieves are costing us millions every year, their selfish greed is threatening the sustainability of paua fisheries and putting the future of this valuable resource at risk” said Paua Industry Council, chief executive Jeremy Cooper after news that the Ministry of Fisheries Operation PAID had broken up a major paua poaching ring.

The legitimate commercial paua fishing industry is the fifth most valuable fishery in New Zealand and is worth around $50 million a year.

Commercial fishers take care to selectively harvest only a proportion of paua in an area and then move on to make sure that the paua can regenerate.

Fish thieves take no such care, they strip areas of paua with no regard to size limits designed to ensure breeding stock for the future, this makes it hard for the paua to regenerate and it will take an area decades to recover,” said Mr Cooper. “They don’t give a toss at the ecological and biological destruction they leave behind.”

“The paua fishing industry has worked hard to protect the future of paua fisheries. We have helped fund and support the recent “Poaching is Theft” campaign and work closely with the Ministry of Fisheries to identify and implement measures that we, as an industry, can take to help combat poaching”, he said.

The industry has invested over a million dollars in reseeding programmes, where baby paua are grown in land based paua farms before being out-planted into the wild to grow into adulthood. The aim of this is to boost paua stocks and benefit all paua fishers, including recreational and customary fishers.

“I congratulate the fishery officers for breaking up this criminal gang and can assure the whole hearted support of the paua industry for the government’s aim of stamping out poaching. I hope that the courts will recognise the damage these greedy people are doing to our paua fisheries and the impact on the basic rights of law abiding New Zealanders. We will be hoping for harsh penalties that will act as a deterrent to others.”

Mr Cooper says that anyone who sees suspicious activity should report it to fishery officers by calling 0800 4 POACHER so these thieves can be caught and stopped.

ENDS

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