Paua poacher jailed for 11 months
A convicted poacher has again been sent to prison for illegally taking paua from the Kaikoura coast.
Day Van Tang, of Richmond, along with his brother Hanh Tang, pleaded guilty in June to charges relating to the illegal poaching of paua, including 115 undersized.
Day Van Tang faced a maximum five-year jail term, or a $250,000 fine.
The 30-year-old seasonal worker was sentenced to 11 months in prison yesterday in the Nelson District Court for illegally taking paua with the intention of obtaining financial benefit by selling the shucked meat. Charges were laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries
Tang was ordered to forfeit all property used in the night-time poaching operation, including his Toyota Camry, and was banned from fishing and all fishing-related activities for three years. At an earlier sentencing Hanh Tang was fined $2000 for illegal possession of the shellfish, considered by the brothers to be a delicacy in their home country of Vietnam. Unlike his brother, Hanh had not been to prison previously and was charged with a lesser offence.
Judge Tony Zohrab said Day Van Tang's actions adversely impacted vulnerable fish stocks, and impacted on the rights of legitimate paua harvesters who obeyed catch limits.
"It clearly affects the sustainability of Kaikoura's paua fisheries," Judge Zohrab said. "You knew what you were doing was wrong."
He said Day Van Tang had been in New Zealand a long time and had plenty of time to assimilate into the community. "There are no cultural aspects in this case, just plain selfishness and arrogance."
He said Day Van Tang had been personally pillaging the Kaikoura coast paua reserves for a long time, and that his sentence "must have some teeth" to protect the fishing grounds.
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, at low tide when the paua could be found, and levered them off rocks by feel in knee-high water.
In July last year fisheries officers apprehended Day Van Tang and his brother as they were driving from the scene. They seized from the boot of their car two sacks of paua, a knife and a screwdriver. The sacks contained 139 paua, 115 of which were undersized.
Recreational gatherers are entitled to take up to 10 paua each per day. The minimum length for paua is 125 millimetres.
Initially Day Van Tang admitted he and his brother took the shellfish found in the car, but denied knowing what paua was, calling them "whelks".
He later admitted 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 2004, Day Van Tang received two infringement notices for undersized and excess paua in breach of fisheries regulations. In 2010 he was sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted of 10 paua poaching charges.
- © Fairfax NZ News