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Paua thieves caught in Coromandel Peninsula

17 August 2012

Paua thieves caught in Coromandel Peninsula

Two Auckland men are facing fisheries charges and will be appearing in court after being apprehended by fishery officers at Te Karo Bay (commonly known as “Sailors Grave”) Tairua in the Coromandel Peninsula.

On the evening of Thursday 9 August 2012 the pair, aged 35 and 37, were observed leaving the beach and walking back to their vehicle where they were stopped and spoken to by a fishery officer who searched their back packs. The men were found to have 43 and 89 undersize and excess paua respectively. Some of the paua found on the men were as small as 60mm in length.

Both men are now facing charges in relation to taking or possessing more than three times the daily allowable limit of paua and also taking undersize or possessing undersize paua.

In addition, they have had their dive gear and other items such as knives and catch bags seized as they were used in the offending. These items will be forfeited to the Crown if the men are convicted of the offences.

The daily allowable limit for paua is 10 per person and the minimum size limit is 125mm. Taking or possessing excess shellfish carries penalties of up to $20,000 and can also involve sentences of community service.

Seizure and likely forfeiture of property used in the offending and can include dive gear, vehicles, and boats.

Bay of Plenty / Waikato District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen says, “The actions of these men in blatantly taking such large numbers of undersize paua is unacceptable. This type of behaviour shows a level of blatant disregard of fishing rules and will not be tolerated.”

“This is the third apprehension in recent weeks where people have been caught taking excess and undersize shellfish in remote locations in the Coromandel Peninsula. I hope that it serves as a deterrent to others contemplating similar behaviour and sends the message that locally based Fishery Officers and Honorary Fishery Officers (HFO) are conducting patrols and surveillance in these remote locations.”

Members of the public who see any unlawful activity (including suspected poaching and/or offering seafood for sale on the black-market) are urged to phone the Ministry’s freephone hotline: 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224) in confidence.

“The assistance of the public by reporting suspicious or illegal activity to fishery officers is a key element in protecting our fisheries.”

ENDS

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