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Paua poachers nabbed by fishery officers

Paua poachers nabbed by fishery officers


21 August 2012

Southland fishery officers are hoping a paua incident in early August is not a sign of things to come as the warmer months approach.

A vehicle with three occupants was stopped by fishery officers as it travelled from Bluff towards Invercargill. The three occupants produced a small number of paua to the fishery officers for inspection. However, a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed an additional 75 shucked (shelled) paua.

One of the men claimed responsibility for taking the excess paua and is likely to face prosecution as a result.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Southland Compliance Manager Reece Murphy says that it's a real shame when people disregard the fishing rules, especially as they are there to protect New Zealand's fisheries.

"Daily limits are in place for good reason and the future sustainability of fish stocks is placed in jeopardy when the rules are ignored," says Mr Murphy.

"Taking undersize seafood is also damaging to fish stocks. In this particular case later examination of the shucked paua determined that many would have come from undersized shells."

The prescribed daily limit for paua is 10 for each person gathering the shellfish. The minimum legal size for paua is 125mm in shell length.

Anyone caught taking or possessing excess or undersized fish can expect as a minimum, to be issued with an infringement notice which may range from $250 to $500 depending on the level of offending. Serious breaches can attract prosecution.

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"Fishery officers will be out and about this summer in the Southland region patrolling the area and ensuring fishers are following the rules and taking only what they are legally entitled to.

"The community also plays an important role in protecting our fisheries.

"Members of the public and coastal residents are vital in assisting with the ongoing effort to curb illegal fishing activities."

Anyone witnessing any suspicious or illegal fishing activity should contact MPI on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224). All information is treated in the strictest confidence.

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