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Rocky Landing For Paua Poachers

NEW ZEALAND - The Ministry of Fisheries has announced the successful conclusion of court proceedings against nine Wellington paua poachers, most of whom were repeat offenders.

The offenders were apprehended in September 2009 in a remote location called “Rock Point” on Wellington’s west coast, three kilometres south of Titahi Bay near Porirua.

Fishery Officers found 1,182 paua in 10 white sacks hidden in various locations along the coast and in a camp set up by the offenders. Some of the paua were shucked (shelled) and many were still in their shells.

“This was offending of a very serious nature. Not only were the numbers of paua far in excess of the catch limit, most of them were undersize,” said Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager Mike Green.

A total of 587 of the 700 paua in their shells were less than 125 millimetres in size and 217 of the 482 shucked paua weighed less than 80 grams, so were deemed to have come from shells under 125 millimetres.

“This sort of behaviour is incredibly damaging to the local paua fishery and we won’t tolerate it,” Mr Green said.

Six of the nine offenders have already been sentenced, two to terms of imprisonment, one to community detention and the others to home detention.

Last week’s District Court proceedings dealt with the other three defendants. They were convicted and remanded for sentencing on 12 November.

“One of the defendants is particularly well known to us,” Mr Green said. “He was also found guilty of obstructing a Fishery Officer. He was denied bail, will remain in custody until sentencing and is likely to be facing a significant term of imprisonment.”

The catch limit for paua is 10 per person per day and the minimum size is 125 millimetres across the widest part of the shell. They must be landed in the shell and cannot be shucked at sea. The maximum number of paua people can have in their possession at any one time is 20, or a maximum shucked weight of 2.5 kilograms.

the Fish Site Editor

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