A Porirua pāua poacher has been sent to prison in a sentencing that's hoped to send a strong message that stealing from fisheries will not be tolerated.

Ruteru Sufia, 56, was sentenced to an 18 month prison term in the Porirua District Court today, after he was caught two times in as many days taking pāua.

He previously pleaded guilty to illegally taking 366 pāua from Makara beach, 70 of which were undersized. The daily limit in the area is 10 per person and the minimum legal size is 125mm.

MPI Fishery officers caught Sufia when he was walking back to his car with 145 shucked pāua in his backpack. He was caught in the same place the next day after returning to pick up the remaining 221.

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MPI team manager of fisheries for the eastern and lower North Island Mike Green said it was extremely disappointing to see this level of offending.

"Mr Sufia, who has been convicted on previous occasions for fisheries related offences, showed a blatant disregard for the rules," he said.

"The sentencing reflects the seriousness of the offending by Mr Sufia, and shows there is no tolerance for people that continue to break the law.

"The rules are there for a reason – we need to protect the future sustainability of our fisheries by limiting how much can be caught. When people just take what they want, it threatens the health and future of our fish stocks.

"With recreational fishing starting again as the weather gets warmer, we're reminding people that we're out and about, patrolling the coastlines and beaches to ensure people are respecting the rules.

"We'll be reminding them of the daily catch and size limits and why it's so vital that stocks are maintained for the preservation of precious ecosystems as well as for future generations of recreational fishers."

As well as his prison sentence, Sufia had his vehicle and gear forfeited, and was banned from fishing for three years.

Anyone heading out fishing can check the rules on the free NZ Fishing rules app.

To report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email poacher@mpi.govt.nz.

You can help MPI by providing:

- the location

- vehicle/trailer registration number

- boat name

- description of the person

When reporting any suspected poaching put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.