Divers across Wellington region nabbed with 400 illegal paua in police sting

Some of the more than 280 paua, many undersized, that were seized from three divers at Plimmerton on Saturday.
SUPPLIED

Some of the more than 280 paua, many undersized, that were seized from three divers at Plimmerton on Saturday.

Fisheries officers have nabbed three groups of recreational divers with almost 400 illegally caught paua across the Wellington region.

The biggest haul - 280 shellfish - were seized from three Whanganui divers at Plimmerton Beach on Saturday, along with the vehicle and dive gear used to catch them.

Ministry for Primary Industries district compliance manager Mike Green said more than 40 fisheries officers targeted recreational fishers in Wellington, Kapiti and Wairarapa, and were disappointed with what they found.

Honorary Fishery Officer Sarah Neighbours and Senior Compliance Officer Craig Wallace were stunned at the 280  paua they ...
SUPPLIED

Honorary Fishery Officer Sarah Neighbours and Senior Compliance Officer Craig Wallace were stunned at the 280 paua they seized from three divers in the Plimmerton area on Saturday.

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"Our message is very clear: if you break the law, you'll face the consequences."

More than 30 boats were boarded and inspected and officers spoke to more than 200 people. Some of them were experienced divers who chose to flout the rules, he said.

"As a result, three separate groups of divers will be prosecuted for excess and undersized paua and excess mussels. Others received infringements and/or warning notices."

People who took excess and under-sized paua were depleting stocks for future generations, Green said.

"We will be out and about patrolling all summer, so if you're contemplating taking more than your fair share and taking under-sized shellfish, be warned."

Information on how to measure paua and keep within the legal catch is available at www.mpi.govt.nz

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