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Two men banned from fishing for three years after separate pāua poaching incidents

Two men, one from Lower Hutt and the other from Napier, have both been banned from fishing for three years after repeatedly taking excess and undersized pāua in recent years.

Pāua stock photo Source: istock.com

The men were sentenced yesterday in separate courts over unrelated incidents of offending, a statement from The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the Fisheries Act 1996, bans are mandatory for anyone who commits certain offences more than once within seven years.

Ionatana Sasi, 51, was caught in 2019 with 144 undersized pāua he took at Eastbourne near Burdan’s Gate in Wellington.

It was the second time in four years he had offended by stealing pāua in the area.

When MPI fishery officers asked him to come ashore, he dumped his catch bag in shallow water.

Fishery officers retrieved the bag, inspected his catch, and found 156 pāua – more than 15 times the legal limit.

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

The court did not accept that explanation as it was the second time he had been caught taking undersized pāua in that area.

Along with the ban, Sasi had all his dive gear used in the fisheries offending forfeited to the Crown and was ordered to do 250 hours of community work.

Similarly, a Napier man had a three-year ban imposed after a second conviction for taking pāua. An application to vary or expunge this ban will be heard in September. MPI says it opposes the request.

Kelly Horowai Makoare, 57, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fisheries Act 1996. Along with being banned from fishing, he was fined $1200.

In February last year, Makoare was diving for pāua at Pourerere Beach in Central Hawke's Bay.

Fishery officers inspected his boat when he returned to shore and found him with 52 pāua, more than five times the daily limit.

“When someone takes more than their share they can ruin it for everyone. The rules are there for a reason — to help make sure we can all sustainably enjoy kaimoana.

“These sentences in Lower Hutt and Napier send a strong message that there are serious consequences for those who want to break the rules in place to protect pāua,” says MPI national manager of fisheries compliance Steve Ham.

MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the ministry's 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).