Illegal hauls to spark more patrols

19:06, Nov 11 2012

Three men have been caught with more than double the legal limit of paua, with most of their illegal catch also undersized.

Fishery officers from the Primary Industries Ministry found the three men in possession of 75 paua - 68 of which were under the minimum legal size of 125 millimetres - near Omaui late on Thursday afternoon.

The national bag limit is 10 paua per person per day.

The bust follows three other seizures on Wednesday and Southland District compliance manager Reece Murphy said the behaviours of some fishers lately had been disappointing.

"Given the fine spell after a lengthy period of inclement conditions it was expected that there would be a surge in fishing-related activity, and while most fishers were compliant with the conservation-based regulations, some seemed prepared to disregard the rules," Mr Murphy said.

"The rules are fairly widely known by now and are there to protect the paua stocks for our future generations to enjoy."

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Mr Murphy said because of the poor behaviour of paua gatherers in the past few days, fishery officers would be stepping up their patrols. "Given the rates of offending over the past few days we are increasing our efforts over the summer to ensure the message gets through," he said.

Those caught breaking the law could expect infringement fines of up to $750 and possible forfeiture of fishing gear and vehicles for more serious offending.

Fishing rules are available on line at fish.govt.nz, at sports stores, or from the Primary Industries Ministry office in Invercargill. Fishers could also get size restrictions and daily limits for fish species sent directly to their cell phone by texting the species (eg paua, mussels, blue cod) to 9889.

The public are urged to report any suspicious activity by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).

The Southland Times