Press Release: Ministry For Primary Industries
A 48 year-old Porirua man received a prison sentence in the Wellington District Court yesterday for paua poaching.
Pele Pele Lemalu was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after he was caught by fishery officers in two separate incidents with a combined total of more than 90 times the daily legal limit of paua. He was also prohibited from fishing for three years, and an associate’s vehicle together with all dive gear was forfeited.
In February 2012, Mr Lemalu was caught at Makara Beach with his associate Aaron Karatiana collecting paua. After inspecting some packs, fishery officers found a total of 635 shucked paua and five paua still in their shells. Of the 640 paua taken, 117 were undersized. Mr Karatiana was sentenced in September 2012, to four months’ home detention.
In the second incident in June 2012, Mr Lemalu was caught at Pukerua Bay with his associate Neru Kome taking paua from an area where only handlines are permitted. The men had been night diving with a dive torch and were stopped by fishery officers in their vehicle around midnight. Upon inspection of the vehicle, 324 paua were found, all of which were undersize. Mr Kome was sentenced in August 2012, to three months and three weeks home detention.
In both incidents, Mr Lemalu had intended to sell his catch.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Wellington District Compliance Manager Mike Green, says that this sentence will hopefully act as a deterrent to those who choose to benefit from their illegal and harmful actions.
“This sentence shows that you can receive prison time for committing serious fisheries offences,” says Mr Green.
“Poachers not only risk fish stocks but they are stealing from their communities and making it harder for compliant recreational fishers to enjoy fishing activities by taking more than their legal entitlement and benefitting from it.”
Under the Fisheries Act 1996 the maximum penalties for selling your recreational catch to obtain a benefit is five years’ imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine.
The national paua limit is ten paua per person per day. Paua must be a minimum of 125 millimetres nationally (excluding some areas in the Taranaki region).
“Poaching seriously compromises New Zealand’s fish stocks and undermines the important work being done to ensure their sustainability.
“Our fishery officers are entrusted with protecting our fish stocks. We also greatly appreciate the support of the community in reporting poachers and those who break the rules. If you see people breaking the fishing rules we want to know about it.”
Fishery officers ask the public to report any suspicious activity in our fisheries by phoning 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are kept confidential.
For further information about recreational fishing limits visit www.fish.govt.nz
You can also take advantage of the free mobile services. Text ‘app’ to 9889 to download the New Zealand fishing rules smartphone app. Or text the name of the species you are fishing for (e.g. crayfish, paua) to 9889 and you’ll receive the size and limit number by return text. Texts are free.