Poach­ers to prison

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Two prison terms have been handed out and an­other is likely for mem­bers of a paua poach­ing group caught tak­ing ex­ces­sive num­bers of the shell­fish from lo­cal wa­ters.

The Min­istry of Fish­eries last week an­nounced the con­clu­sion of court pro­ceed­ings against nine paua poach­ers.

They were ap­pre­hended in Septem­ber 2009 three kilo­me­tres south of Ti­tahi Bay.

Fish­ery of­fi­cers found 1182 paua in 10 white sacks hid­den in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions along the coast and in a camp set up by the of­fend­ers.

‘‘ 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 field op­er­a­tions man­ager Mike Green.

Of the 700 paua in their shells, 587 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,’’ he said.

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

The most re­cent district court pro­ceed­ings dealt with the other three de­fen­dants. They were con­victed and re­manded for sen­tenc­ing on Novem­ber 12.

‘‘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 [and] will re­main in cus­tody un­til sen­tenc­ing.’’

The Min­istry of Fish­eries en­cour­ages mem­bers of the pub­lic to call 0800 476 224 if they see any­thing sus­pi­cious at fish­ing spots.

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