A Lower Hutt man and a Napier man have each received three-year fishing bans for repeatedly taking excess and undersize paua in recent years.
The men were sentenced in different courts for the unrelated offending in early April.
Under the Fisheries Act 1996, bans are mandatory for anyone who commits certain offences more than once within seven years.
In 2019, Ionatana Sasi (51) was caught with 144 undersize paua he took at Eastbourne near Burdan's Gate in Wellington. It was the second time in four years that Sasi has been before the court for stealing p?ua in this area.
When Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers asked him to come ashore, he dumped his catch bag in shallow water. They retrieved the bag, inspected his catch, and found 156 paua – more than 15 times the legal limit.
Sasi told fishery officers that it was too much effort to gather the legal limit of 10, as most are undersize. He said he intended to measure all the paua and return the undersize shellfish back to the sea.
The court did not accept that explanation as this was the second time Sasi had been caught taking undersize paua in that area.
Along with the ban, the offender had all his dive gear used in the fisheries offending forfeited to the Crown and was ordered to do 250 hours community work.
In a similar situation, a Napier man was also banned from fishing for three years, following his second conviction for taking excess paua. An application to vary or expunge this ban will be heard in September. MPI opposes this.
Kelly Horowai Makoare (57) pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fisheries Act 1996. Along with being banned from fishing, he was fined $1,200.
In February last year, Makoare was diving for paua at Pourerere Beach in Central Hawke's Bay.
Fishery officers inspected his boat when he returned to shore and found him with 52 paua, more than five times the daily limit.
"When someone takes more than their share they can ruin it for everyone. The rules are there for a reason – to help make sure we can all sustainably enjoy kaimoana.
"These sentences in Lower Hutt and Napier send a strong message that there are serious consequences for those who want to break the rules in place to protect paua," says MPI national manager fisheries compliance, Steve Ham.
MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the ministry's 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).
13 April 2021