Paua poacher shells out 11 months in prison after second conviction

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Day Van Tang, a seasonal horticultural worker was sentenced to 11 months imprisonment after he was caught by fisheries officers with over ten times the daily limit of paua, the vast majority of which were undersized. Tang was also banned from fishing for three years, and his vehicle together with all of the gear used in the offending was ordered forfeit to the crown.

On 3 July 2012, Tang was collecting paua at night with his brother Hanh Tang at a secluded spot on the Kaikoura Coast. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers apprehended Tang after they had left their diving spot and were returning to Nelson.  Fishery officers targeted the Tang brothers after an anonymous tip off from the public.

After inspecting his car they found two sacks of paua containing a total of 139 paua of which nine were already shucked and a total of 115 were undersized. Officers subsequently recovered a further 13 freshly shucked paua from the area he had been diving. Hanh Tang has already been sentenced to a fine of $2,000 in his case, however as there was no evidence that he intended to sell any of the paua and this was his first fisheries related conviction he escaped a more serious penalty.

When apprehended Day Van Tang admitted that he had taken the paua found in the vehicle, however at first he denied knowing what they were, referring to them as ‘whelks’. In a later interview he admitted knowing that the shellfish were indeed paua and that he had travelled to Kaikoura for the purpose of taking them. He also admitted knowing the daily limit for paua and that he did not measure any of the shellfish.

The national paua limit is ten paua per person per day. Paua must be a minimum of 125 millimetres nationally (excluding some areas in the Taranaki region). Under the Fisheries Act 1996 the maximum penalties for selling your recreational catch to obtain a benefit is five years' imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine.

Tang has previously been in front of the courts on paua poaching charges and in 2010 was convicted on ten charges selling, taking or possessing paua to obtain a benefit, which resulted in a sentence of 12 months imprisonment.

Nelson/Marlborough District Compliance Manager Ian Bright says that he is pleased to see the courts sending a strong message that this kind of blatant poaching will not be tolerated, and hopes that it will act as a deterrent to those who choose to benefit from their illegal and harmful actions.

“This isn’t the first time Mr Tang has been in front of the courts for offences involving paua and it goes to show that the message simply won’t get through to some people. I hope he takes the time to reflect on the foolishness of his actions, he has a long while to do so.”

"Poachers not only risk fish stocks but they are stealing from their communities and making it harder for compliant recreational fishers to enjoy fishing activities by taking more than their legal entitlement and benefitting from it."

"Our fishery officers are entrusted with protecting our fish stocks. We also greatly appreciate the support of the community in reporting poachers and those who break the rules. If you see or suspect people are breaking the rules, we want to know about it."

Fishery officers 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 recreational fishing limits visit

You can also take advantage of the free mobile services. Text 'app' to 9889 to download the New Zealand fishing rules smartphone app. Or text the name of the species you are fishing for (e.g. crayfish, paua) to 9889 and you'll receive the size and limit number by return text. Texts are free.

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