A Rotorua man has been sentenced to 200 hours' community service after pleading guilty to paua poaching charges.
The Ministry for Primary Industries reported that Raymond Major, 34, unemployed, appeared in the Rotorua District Court on July 31 on charges under Section 232 of the Fisheries Act 1996 relating to the illegal sale of paua.
Major was initially identified after offering both paua and kina for sale through his Facebook page. A Fishery Officer was then deployed to make contact with the defendant and arrange to buy seafood from him.
On the February 17 this year the officer met with Major at a Rotorua car park where he purchased two plastic bags containing a total of 40 paua for $100. He arranged to meet Major again five days later where he purchased a further 20 paua in their shells for $50. All the paua were undersized and ranged between 89 and 117mm. The daily limit for paua is 10 per person and the minimum size is 125mm.
In a subsequent interview Major admitted selling paua to the officer. He said he was aware of the recreational daily limits for paua; however he claimed he was not aware that it was illegal to sell recreationally taken seafood.
Ministry of Primary Industries Waikato/BOP District Compliance Manager, Brendon Mikkelsen said he was glad to see the courts passing down strong sentences to those who chose to flout New Zealand's fisheries laws.
"Black market dealings in paua are effectively theft of a national resource and claiming ignorance is never an excuse. It is up to all fishers to know and comply with New Zealand's fishery laws, or risk prosecution."
"Poachers not only risk fish stocks but they are stealing from their communities, and making it harder for compliant recreational fishers to enjoy fishing activities, by taking more than their legal entitlement and benefitting from it."
"Our fishery officers greatly appreciate the support of the community in reporting poachers and those who break the rules. If you see people acting suspiciously, whether it's on the water, at the pub or on social media - we want to know about it"
Fishery officers ask the public to report any suspicious activity by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are kept strictly confidential.
For further information about fishing rules and limits visit http://www.fish.govt.nz/.