Paua offending was on the menu in Thames District Court yesterday (27 August) with 4 men being prosecuted for illegal gathering on the coast north of Whitianga. Ē
Forty paua hidden in a Pohutukawa tree cost a Whitianga man his scuba gear and $1,430 in fines and court costs.
Joe Brown Anderson, 51, pleaded guilty to charges of taking too many paua, taking undersized paua and using scuba gear to gather paua, laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
MPI Fishery Officers observed Mr Anderson leaving the water at Kuaotunu, north of Whitianga, on 24 November 2014 with a large brown sack. During an inspection officers only found a sack of kina in his vehicle, but later searched the track Mr Anderson had used and found the blue catch bag containing 40 paua hidden in a Pohutukawa tree.
In a subsequent interview Mr Anderson admitted he had gathered the paua in the blue catch bag. All but 2 of the 40 paua were under the minimum legal size of 125mm.
The recreational limit for paua is 10 per person, per day, and it is illegal to use Underwater Breathing Apparatus (UBA) equipment to gather paua.
In another case 3 Hamilton men were fined a total $3,540 for taking 126 undersize paua from Opito Bay, north of Whitianga in January this year.
Shane Dion Jay Cooper 28, Aaron Jake Edmonds 32, and Joshua Tui Cooper 23, all pleaded guilty to taking too many paua and guilty of taking undersize paua. They were each ordered to pay $1,180 in fines and court costs.
MPI District Compliance Manager Waikato/Bay of Plenty Brendon Mikkelsen says paua is a highly valued resource on the Coromandel and it is very disappointing that some peoples’ actions puts its sustainability at risk.
“Paua have limited coastal habitat and the sedentary nature of the paua makes it highly susceptible to over fishing. Thanks to the Honorary Fishery Officer network in this district together with local community support MPI is well placed to protect this precious resource”.
People can report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.