Two men claiming to have gathered 341 undersized paua for a tangi have been banned from fishing for three years.
When Stirling Grant and Waiariki Taoho and two other men were pulled over by police leaving Blackhead Beach in Hawke's Bay on March 29, Grant said they had a customary permit and had collected about 200 paua.
When fisheries officers searched the Toyota Hilux driven by Grant they found 343 paua. All but two were under the legal size of 125mm. Some were as small as 92mm.
The catch limit is 10 paua per person per day.
Grant and Taoho said they were collecting paua for two tangi, but did not have a customary permit.
In January they were caught with another man on nearby Pourerere Beach after speeding away from fisheries officers. They ran into the waves, ignoring calls from an officer, and emptied the contents of sacks into the sea.
Grant later said they knew they were being pursued and wanted to get rid of rock lobster they knew to be undersize.
Grant, 24, a forestry worker, and Taoho, 27, a slaughterman, are from Hastings. They appeared in Waipukurau District Court on Monday. They pleaded guilty to possessing undersize paua and exceeding the daily limit in March, and to obstructing a fisheries officer in relation to the earlier offending. Both men were banned from fishing for three years.
Grant was also sentenced t0 300 hours' community work and fined $500. Taoho was fined $1500.
Hastings men Sheridan Morrell, 22, and Ayden North, 20, were earlier sentenced to 250 hours' community work for possessing undersized paua in relation to the March offending.
Lance Morrell, 23, unemployed, also of Hastings, will be sentenced for obstruction later this month.
Food gathered under a customary permit must not be commercial in any way or involve commercial gain or trade. Food can be gathered only for a purpose authorised by kaitiaki (guardians), such as hui or tangi.
Tangata whenua must select kaitiaki who will be responsible for issuing customary fishing authorisations, and specify the boundaries of their rohe moana (coastal marine area) within which the kaitiaki will have jurisdiction.
Kaitiaki decide how much fish can be taken. Catch can exceed daily recreational limits and can be undersized.
Scuba gear can be used under a customary fishing permit. Pakeha can be issued customary fishing authorisations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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