Netballers 'disgusted' after undersized paua dumped at Masterton courts
The remains of more than 300 mostly undersized paua were dumped at Masterton's Colombo Rd netball courts on Monday night.
The shells and guts of the valuable shellfish were reported on Tuesday morning to Masterton District Council, a council spokesman said.
Council staff quickly cleaned up the mess and reported the dumping to the Ministry for Primary Industries.
"They said there were 315 undersized, that's a lot. That's just disgusting," said a Netball Wairarapa worker.
Photos taken by council staff show most of the paua were smaller than the 125-millimetre permitted minimum size for ordinary, black-foot paua.
The daily recreational catch limit is 10 per person, and anyone buying, selling or swapping a recreational catch can be fined up to $250,000.
MPI spokesman Jim Flack said information provided by the council about the dumped paua remains would help the Ministry's ongoing investigations into illegal fishing in Wairarapa.
Fisheries officers were constantly building a picture about illegal practices, and poachers were sometimes prosecuted.
"People are ringing us all the time about activity at the coast - an extra piece of information can make all the difference."
Exact statistics were not available on Tuesday on how often prosecutions were brought, nor how much paua was illegally taken.
But it was "not uncommon" for fisheries officers to find dumped paua at road ends or down river banks near the coast, sometimes apparently because it was undersized, or because people had taken too many.
"But not at the netball courts in Masterton, that's incredible."
- Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal fishing activity by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24).