A Flaxmere man who made repeated attempts to evade a fishery officer after taking 301 excess paua has pleaded guilty to a range of associated offences including obstruction.
Jeremy Hohua Whitirea Hepi, 38, admitted two charges of obstructing a fishery officer as well as possessing 301 excess paua and 300 undersized paua when he appeared in the Hastings District Court yesterday.
He was sentenced to 300 hours community work on each count to be served concurrently.
The vehicle Hepi used in the offence as well as assorted diving gear was forfeited to the Crown.
Hepi's offending was detected by a fishery officer last month after he was spotted in an area at the south end of Blackhead Beach in central Hawke's Bay.
When Hepi saw the fishery officer approaching, he sped up a small bank in an attempt to get away.
The fishery officer subsequently found Hepi's vehicle failed to take a corner and had run off the road.
As he approached, he found Hepi trying to restart the vehicle and advised him he was a fishery officer and to stop what he was doing.
Hepi continued to try to restart the vehicle and went to the front where he connected jumper leads and a battery to the car battery terminals.
He was then advised that he was under arrest for obstructing a fishery officer.
Hepi continued to try to get the vehicle back on to the road even after a second fishery officer arrived to block his escape. The vehicle eventually stalled.
Fears for paua
Ray McKay, Ministry for Primary Industries Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa District compliance manager, is concerned with the increasing frequency of larger seizures of paua in Hawke's Bay which he believes is likely to be servicing a substantial black market trade.
"That trade spans local, nationwide and international markets.
"The implications of black market poaching cannot be underestimated. They include seriously compromising New Zealand's ability to manage the paua stock sustainably, and an annual loss of revenue to New Zealand in excess of $10 million. It also restricts the rights of both recreational and customary fishers."
The daily maximum take of paua is 10. The minimum size limit is 125mm in length.