A Hastings labourer has been fined $750 for poaching paua from Te Angi Angi Marine Reserve.
Toa Joeseph Pitiera Kupa, 20, pleaded guilty after an incident on January 30 when he was caught for gathering marine life at the southern end of the reserve, just north of Blackhead Beach's camping ground. He was found with 31 paua, which were later returned to the ocean.
At Hastings District Court, defence counsel Cliff Church disputed the number of paua taken and said his client hadn't realised it was a reserve and had gone to the beach only to have "fun and a feed" with friends.
Judge Tony Adeane said the charge carried a term of imprisonment which indicated how seriously the authorities and the community regarded the offence.
Kupa was also ordered to pay $150 court costs.
Department of Conservation lawyer Kevin Smith told Hawke's Bay Today that Kupa was the sixth person convicted for taking seafood from the reserve this year.
* Three other men appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday on paua poaching charges.
Wayne Waerea, 37, of Bridge Pa, Ngahiti Waerea, 25, of Hastings and Thompson Hokianga, 29, of Flaxmere, were each fined $500 and ordered to pay $130 court costs after they were caught with a bag of 95 paua on March 2. Fifteen were undersized.
The men were caught at Blackhead Beach with a large sack on the front of a quad motorbike, which had been seen travelling slowly with the headlights off at 11.30pm.
The court heard it could not be proven whether the paua had been taken from the reserve.
The trio's lawyer, Peter Nee Harland, said the men had a customary permit, yet an administrative error had rendered the permit invalid.
Judge Tony Adeane said the quantity was "grossly in excess" of the daily limit.
Anecdotal evidence suggested the big paua had come from the reserve, yet this was "merely a suspicion".
The motorbike had been confiscated.