A Wellington man has been banned from fishing and sentenced to home detention for his part in taking 319 pāua from the harbour to sell on the black market.
Most of the pāua (207) were undersize. The daily legal limit for pāua is 10 per person, with a minimum size of 125mm.
At sentencing in the Wellington District Court today, the Court took into account that Felesese Sam Pati (45) was a recidivist offender with regard to pāua poaching. He was prohibited from fishing for 3 years and sentenced to home detention for 6 months, following a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 2 charges under the Fisheries Act 1996.
Mr Pati was the second man to be sentenced on the matter. His dive partner was sentenced in 2019 to 10 months' home detention and banned from fishing for 3 years.
Lower North Island regional fisheries compliance manager Tyrone Robinson says the sentence should send a strong message – there are consequences for pāua poaching.
"Along with his dive partner, Mr Pati knowingly took a huge amount of pāua, many undersize with the intention to sell and profit from this poached seafood on the black market.
"Pāua is a precious resource. It's illegal to sell recreationally caught seafood. It's really disappointing and seriously undermines sustainability of a finite resource."
Mr Pati and an associate had been diving in the early hours of 30 June 2018 in Wellington Harbour. They were stopped at around 2.40am by police who noticed they were driving without lights on and at speed. Police noted 2 wet back packs in the car and questioned them. But they quickly fled the scene in their vehicle.
However, the men were found a short time later and the 319 shucked pāua was also retrieved with assistance from a police dog after an attempt to hide it under bushes.
MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the ministry's 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).
And to ensure they know the rules recreational fishers should download the free NZ Fishing Rules app.