Four Northland paua gatherers lost their mate’s 4WD and were fined a total of $8,000 for taking more paua than their customary permit allowed.
Jared Ngawhika, 32, Ryan Ngawhika, 26, both of Kaitaia, Zane Busby, 35, and Morgan Clarken, 26, both of Ahipara, appeared together in Kaitaia District Court yesterday (24 June).
The 4 men pleaded guilty to charges of taking more than the daily recreational limit of paua, and undersized paua. They were each fined $1500 on the first charge and $500 on the second, and had to pay court costs of $260 each.
The men had borrowed a Jeep Cherokee 4WD from a friend to go diving and this was forfeited to the Crown.
Ministry for Primary Industries Compliance Officers stopped the 4WD at Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara, after returning from paua gathering in February this year.
The 4 men had a customary permit issued by the Ahipara Maori Committee to gather “60 paua with no size limit” for an unveiling in Ahipara.
MPI officers found 175 paua in a sack in the back of the 4WD, 115 more than the permit allowed. Only 2 paua were the legal size of 125mm or more.
None of the gatherers gave a reason for having more paua than was on the permit.
The daily recreational limit for paua is 10 per person.
MPI Acting-Northland District Compliance Manager Steve Rudsdale says paua is highly valued by the community and has a limited distribution on Northland’s predominantly sandy west coast.
“Paua don’t move around much and need to live in groups to breed successfully. If large areas are cleaned out this will have a severe impact on the ability of paua to reproduce. This sort of overfishing puts the future of the resource at risk.”
MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.
MPI media team phone 029 894 0328, firstname.lastname@example.org