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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

A Lower Hutt man and a Napier man have each received 3-year fishing bans for repeatedly taking excess and undersize pāua, in recent years.

The men were sentenced in different courts for the unrelated offending yesterday.

Under the Fisheries Act 1996, bans are mandatory for anyone who commits certain offences more than once within 7 years.

In 2019 Ionatana Sasi (51) was caught with 144 undersize pāua he took at Eastbourne near Burdan’s Gate in Wellington. It was the second time in 4 years that Mr Sasi has been before the court for stealing pāua in this area.

When Ministry for Primary Industries (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.

Mr 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 undersize shellfish back to the sea.

The court did not accept that explanation as this was the second time Mr Sasi had been caught taking undersize pāua in that area.

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

In a similar situation, a Napier man was also banned from fishing for 3 years, following his second conviction for taking excess pāua. An application to vary or expunge this ban will be heard in September. MPI opposes this.

Kelly Horowai Makoare (57) pleaded guilty to one charge under the Fisheries Act 1996. Along with being banned from fishing, he was fined $1,200.

In February last year, Mr 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 5 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 fisheries compliance, Steve Ham.

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

Recreational fishers are encouraged to download the free NZ Fishing Rules app.