Kaiapoi man fined for taking pāua from banned Kaikōura area

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A 50-year-old Kaiapoi man has been fined $1,250 after admitting to taking pāua from an area on the Kaikōura coast that was closed after the 2017 earthquakes.

Thomas Edwin Cooke pleaded guilty to a charge under the Fisheries Act of contravening a sustainability measure when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court this week.

The charge relates to an incident in April this year when Cooke went diving in the Kaikōura Marine Management Area and took 20 pāua.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman Howard Reid says Cooke packed the pāua in a sack in a nearby drain culvert after he gathered them, with the intention of returning under the cover of darkness to pick it up.

"Fishery officers saw a quad bike heading to the area where Mr Cooke had left the pāua and went to investigate. They discovered the sack of pāua and went to speak to him. Mr Cooke admitted that he knew about the shellfish closure in the area and had gathered the pāua for his birthday.

"There is no excuse for flouting the rules. This closure is in place to ensure the pāua affected by the earthquakes have a chance to regenerate. The earthquake had a devastating effect on the Kaikōura pāua fishery with huge quantities of pāua dying and large areas of productive pāua habitat were lost.

"Efforts to rebuild the fishery need to be respected by everyone."

Cooke was also ordered to pay court costs of $130. His quad bike and dive gear used in the offending were forfeited.

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