Ministry for Primary Industries compliance officers caught three men with 867 paua on the west coast south of Titahi Bay on Monday (20 October 2014).
The recreational fishing limit for paua is ten per person per day.
After observing the group for some time, officers swooped on their position and located three large packs, hidden from sight by the men earlier, each containing large amounts of shucked paua.
Two of the men involved had been observed in a small motorised dingy in dangerous sea conditions recovering paua thought to have been caught and stashed earlier.
When processed and weighed the packs holding the paua were found to contain more than 81kgs of paua meat, many which were deemed to be under the 125mm legal size limit. Two of the three men were known to MPI officers.
All three will face serious fisheries charges that upon conviction can result in a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. They will appear at the Porirua District Court on 11 November.
The outboard motor, paua and other miscellaneous property used in the commission of the offence was seized by compliance officers.
MPI Wellington & Taranaki District Compliance Manager Mike Green said while he was very pleased with the work of his compliance staff in finding this offending, he was disappointed to see gathering of this scale and magnitude continuing to take place in and around the Wellington coastline.
“Wellington is well known for its paua and in places there is a good and plentiful supply for all to enjoy.
“The actions of these individuals in this particular case go a long way to ruin that for everyone else. Taking quantities of that size strips an entire area and can take months if not years to recover.
“It is timely to remind everyone that recreational fishing rules have been developed to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries. Taking just enough for a feed, within those limits, allows everyone to enjoy and taste the bounties of our coastline.”
Information of all limits and sizes including closures and other rules can be found at the link below:
MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.