Facebook helps nab paua poachers

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Fishery officers have praised the public after numerous tip-offs led to the apprehension of a person illegally selling paua on Facebook.

On 22 August, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) received information about a person who was offering paua for sale on Facebook at $10 each. The information received indicated that the person had up to 100 paua for sale.

A search warrant was executed at a Manurewa address by members of MPI Manukau and North Harbour compliance teams, together with the New Zealand Police. Clear evidence of offending against the Fisheries Act 1996 was found and one occupant at the address admitted to offering paua for sale on Facebook.

The sale of recreationally taken seafood is illegal and an offence under the Fisheries Act. Those found in breach of the Act risk a maximum fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment plus the forfeiture of any property used during the offending.

Fish can only be purchased from a commercial fisher or a commercially operated fish retailer, and anyone caught purchasing fish from an unlicensed vendor risks prosecution.

The illegitimate sale of shellfish could also present a food safety risk. They could be contaminated with illness-causing bacteria or toxins if collected from areas where the seawater is not clean.

Manukau District Compliance Manager, Michael Greenstreet believes that the apprehension of the person involved wouldn't have been possible without the help of the public.

"We rely on the support of the community in reporting poachers and those who break the rules. Public information is of critical importance to what we do, so if you suspect something we urge you to report it. Whether it is people acting suspiciously at the beach, at the pub, or online – if it looks dodgy, we want to know about it."

Ministry for Primary Industries ask the public to report any suspicious activity in our fisheries by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are kept strictly confidential.

For further information about fishing rules and limits visit www.fish.govt.nz . Alternatively you can get up-to-date fishing rules with the free MPI fishing app by texting 'app' to 9889 or visiting http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/MFish+Apps/default.htm

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