Brothers admit late night paua raid

'BLATANT': Taking excess and undersized paua can result in a $20,000 fine.
'BLATANT': Taking excess and undersized paua can result in a $20,000 fine.

Two Richmond brothers who consider paua to be a delicacy in their home country of Vietnam were caught with two sacks full of the shellfish after a night raid in Kaikoura.

Day Van Tang, who has already been to prison for selling paua, and Hanh Tang were convicted in the Nelson District Court last week on charges brought by the Ministry for Primary Industries, in relation to the illegal taking of paua last year.

Day Van Tang admitted a charge of poaching paua, and was remanded for sentencing on August 21. Hanh Tang admitted illegal possession of paua and was fined $2000.

In early 2012, fisheries officers received information about Day Van Tang illegally taking paua from the Kaikoura coast during the night. He would drive to a secluded spot along the coast known as Black Miller, at low tide when the paua could be found and levered off rocks by feel in knee-high water.

On July 3 last year, Day Van Tang and his brother Hanh drove from Nelson to Kaikoura and gathered paua, which they put in sacks. Some of the paua was shucked at the water's edge but, in total, two sacks were carried to the road and concealed in long grass. Day Van Tang got changed, retrieved the sacks and the brothers left the area.

Fisheries officers stopped Day Van Tang a short time later and seized from the boot of the car the two sacks of paua, a knife, and a screwdriver. The sacks contained a total of 139 paua, 115 of which were undersized.

Rules state the maximum number of paua that each of the brothers could take on any one day is 10. The minimum length of the shellfish that can be taken is 125 millimetres.

Fisheries officers also recovered 13 freshly shucked shells from the tidal area where Day Van Tang had been shucking paua.

He admitted that he and his brother had taken the shellfish found in the car, but denied knowing what paua was, and considered them "whelks". He later admitted that he knew they were paua, and that he had gone to Kaikoura specifically to take them. He also knew the daily limit, and that he had not measured any of the paua taken.

In answer to a question from Judge Tony Zohrab about why the pair had taken undersized paua, defence lawyer David Holloway said he supposed it might have been difficult for them to detect the size of the shellfish because they were taken at night.

Mr Holloway also said it was perhaps a naive explanation, but they had taken so many because of the distance travelled that required time off work. He said the paua were taken for them to eat and not to sell.

At the time they were apprehended, Hanh Tang told fisheries officers he had helped to take the shellfish.

In 2004, Day Van Tang received two infringement notices for undersized and excess paua in breach of fisheries regulations, and in 2010 he was sentenced to a year in prison after he was convicted of 10 charges of selling paua and taking or possessing paua with the intention of obtaining a benefit.

Judge Zohrab said the pair knew what they were doing was illegal.

"There's no excuse for it and if people like you and others keep carrying on like this it will be a forgotten delicacy because there won't be any paua left. I don't know if that interests you at all."

Judge Zohrab said New Zealand's "very large foreshore" made such offending difficult to detect, and the pair had driven to Kaikoura at night to reduce the risk of being caught.

The Nelson Mail