A Northland man jailed for a year for selling $12,000 worth of pāua on the black market is a "wake-up call" for those illegally plundering the ocean, NZ First MP Shane Jones says.
Kaitāia man William Rini Wikitera, 42, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on two charges under the Fisheries Act.
Wikitera has previous convictions for pāua poaching and was one of two people before the court for paua-related offences committed between March and August 2015.
The offending was discovered through a complex investigation involving MPI fisheries officers and MPI compliance investigators. About $12,000 worth of pāua, illegally gathered in the Ahipara area, was sold in Northland and Auckland.
Jones, who was born and raised in Awanui, said the jail term was a major wake-up call for people systematically poaching pāua in Northland.
"If this sentence doesn't wake up the ideas of people who are profiting from this illegal trade it's difficult to see what will," Jones said.
"This guy might be Māori by name but he doesn't give two hoots about tikanga Māori. If you are not prepared to abide by Māori cultural obligations you have no rights and be prepared to hear the cell door close behind you."
He said people could collect seafood legally for hui by getting a permit.
"In my time on school trips out to Ahipara, we would collect pāua. We need to ensure the resource will prevail for the next generation and beyond."
Kaitāia woman Rachele Mathews has previously spoken out about the plundering of pāua in the Ahipara area. But she did not believe the sentence would be a deterrent for those profiting from illegal pāua dealing.
"He won't even be in jail for a year. To me this is just a slap on the hand."
Mathews was aware people from the area were taking undersize pāua daily and not all of them were being caught as there were not enough fisheries officers.
"In 10 years there will be nothing left. This is a way for people like this to make a quick buck and they are not looking at the long-term effects.
"I hope the rest of his whānau take a bloody look at this and see it's embarrassing he's been caught."
MPI northern investigations manager Simon Anderson said the sentence sent a clear message that taking more than the legal limit of pāua as well as dealing it on the black market is a serious offence.
"A jail term is a very significant penalty. People who are involved in this sort of illegal behaviour or are anticipating being involved will be punished accordingly," Anderson said.
If anyone has information about fisheries offending they can report it to MPI on 08004POACHER or 0800 476 224.