Northland paua busts and illegal oysters
24 November 2014
Rogue paua gatherers continue to risk big fines and losing vehicles by flouting the recreational fishing regulations on the Northland coast.
Ministry for Primary Industry Compliance Officers have been busy this Spring reminding people of the rules for taking paua and other fish species, and in several cases confiscating catches and seizing vehicles.
Two instances involved paua gathering in the Whananaki area. One involved two men who were found with 164 paua, all less than the minimum length. Recreational gatherers can take 10 paua per person per day. The minimum length is 125mm.
MPI District Compliance Manager Stephen Rudsdale said some paua were as small as 65mm in length, and officers seized a 2007 Toyota Hilux the men were using.
In another incident a gatherer was caught with 54 undersized paua taken from the Whananaki area.
In the Hokianga area, Compliance Officers stopped a vehicle on Waimauku Road where the driver and two children had been diving for paua, and found 82 paua, 59 which were undersize.
Mr Rudsdale said paua is a highly valued resource in Northland and it is very disappointing that some peoples’ actions puts its future at risk.
“Paua don’t move around much and they can easily be stripped out of a local area. With the breeding stock gone, it takes a long time to bring a paua population back.”
All four men are facing serious charges under the Fisheries Act 1996 of fines of up to $250,000.
MPI is warning people to steer clear of buying oysters on Facebook or out of the boot of a car, as they may have been illegally harvested and could make you seriously ill.
Compliance officers have dealt with a number of incidences in November, where people have been selling wild oysters or oysters harvested from disused oyster farms.
Mr Rudsdale said people have no guarantee that the oysters have been harvested from clean water, properly cleaned and chilled, and stored according to food safety rules.
“People are risking illnesses such as Norovirus, Salmonella and Shigella when they buy oysters from a dodgy source. It is illegal to sell your recreational catch and carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.”
People can report any suspicious fishing activity or sales to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.