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Otago Paua Poaching Shut Down

NEW ZEALAND - Fishery Officers supported by Police have terminated an operation aimed at the activities of a group of poachers who have allegedly been harvesting large quantities of paua illegally from the coast around the Otago Peninsula, near Dunedin.

The paua was then allegedly being sold illegally by the group to dealers in fish in the Dunedin area.

Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager Murray Pridham said the termination of this operation followed several months’ monitoring and surveillance work by local Fishery Officers.

“An aluminium dinghy, 1500 paua shells at a residence, an outboard motor and two vehicles have been seized, and about 285 paua believed to have been sold by the offenders have been recovered from various locations around Dunedin,” Mr Pridham said.

“Twenty people have been interviewed to date and enquiries are continuing. However, it is very likely that the ringleaders will face prosecution action.”

The maximum penalty for this type of offending is a term of imprisonment up to five years or a fine up to $250,000, with forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence upon conviction.

“Non-commercial fishers are not permitted to sell or trade their catch and are subject to strict limits on how much they can catch, along with many other controls,” Mr Pridham said.

“However, large quantities of cheap black market seafood are often sold illegally by poachers to workplaces, clubs, hotels and restaurants.

“It is stolen from and undermines our natural resources by poachers whose indiscriminate activities should be noted and reported,” Mr Pridham said. “Information supplied is always treated in confidence and helps to conserve New Zealand’s seafood resources, which ensures that fish stocks will still be there for everyone’s future use and enjoyment.”

The public are reminded that if they see any suspicious fishing activity, they should contact the Ministry of Fisheries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).

the Fish Site Editor

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