Pāua poachers banned from fishing after repeat offences

7:14 pm on 5 April 2021

Two repeat pāua poachers have been banned from fishing, both for three years.

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Photo: pilens/123RF

A Lower Hutt man and a Napier man were sentenced last week, in unrelated cases, for repeatedly taking excess and undersize pāua.

Ionatana Sasi, 51, was caught by fishery officers in 2019 with 144 undersize pāua at Burdan's Gate near Eastbourne in Wellington.

It was the second time in four years that he had been before the courts for stealing pāua in the area, the Ministry for Primary Industries said.

When he was asked to come ashore by officers, Sasi dumped his catch bag in shallow water. When the bag was retrieved, 156 pāua were found - more than 15 times the legal limit.

Sasi told the officers it was too much effort to gather the legal limit of 10, as most were undersize, but that he had intended to measure all the pāua and return the undersize shellfish back to the sea, MPI said.

The court did not accept that explanation and along with the ban, Sasi has had all his dive gear seized and has been ordered to do 250 hours' community work.

The other man, Kelly Horowai Makoare, was banned and fined $1200 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Fisheries Act.

It was his second conviction for taking excess pāua.

Fisheries officers had inspected his boat in February last year, when he returned to shore at remote Pourerere Beach, south of Hastings. They found he had 52 pāua, more than five times the daily limit.

Under the Fisheries Act, bans are mandatory for anyone who commits certain offences more than once within seven years.

Ministry for Primary Industries fisheries compliance manager Steve Ham said the rules were in place to protect kaimoana so everyone can enjoy it.

"When someone takes more than their share they can ruin it for everyone. These sentences ... send a strong message that there are serious consequences for those who want to break the rules."

He encouraged fishers and people living in coastal communities to report to their hotline if they suspected poaching was happening.

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