Paua poaching sparks outrage

By Andrew Bonallack editorial@age.co.nz -
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A collection of over 300 paua shells and guts, left at the Colombo Road netball court carpark. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
A collection of over 300 paua shells and guts, left at the Colombo Road netball court carpark. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

The Times-Age counted a pile of 315 paua shells and guts, among a cloud of flies, on the edge of Colombo netball courts' carpark in Masterton yesterday morning, with most ranging from 90 to 100mm in length.

The legal size for normal paua is 125mm, with a daily limit per person of 10, unless fishers have customary authority to catch more or pick up smaller sizes.

Times-Age readers took to Facebook to vent their anger over photos of the pillage, with more than 40,000 viewing the photos.

Charlotte Macdonald-Winiata said this was the reason paua would be gone or illegal to gather before too long. She hoped the culprits got "mad gutsache" from eating the paua.

"Have some respect for the rest of us, only takes losers like you to ruin it for everybody else."

Sandra Blundell said the greed was a disgrace and there would be nothing left for future generations.

Tania Gibbins said it was disgusting how people "take kai from our ocean then dump the shells, you horrible person -- shame on you. And to read they are undersized -- Aue!".

Jac Ward reckoned it might be time for a five-year ban to let paua build up again.

Masterton District Council responded to a call from the Times-Age, cleaning up the mess within an hour.

A council spokesman said they had informed the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Poaching or suspicious activity can be reported to MPI by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 64)

Paua convictions in Wairarapa over the past five years:

Sept 2014: Norman Namana, 31, caught with 600 paua, 133 undersized. Fined $6000, forfeited car, diving and fishing gear.

April 2014: Jake Cade Benny-Shaw, 20, convicted of taking undersized paua and providing false information after being found with 109 paua, with 103 undersized. Sentenced to 60 hours' community work.

Nov 2013: Stafford Verdin Bartlett, 46, convicted of altering a kaimoana customary fishing document to take smaller than allowed paua. Fined $1500 plus court costs.

Nov 2011: Michael Moeke, 29, caught with 1204 undersized paua at a police checkpoint. Sentenced to six months' home detention. Paua poaching is still alive and well in Wairarapa.

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