Jail time stands for 'worst' trout poacher

Thomas Tawha recorded  on surveillance camera with poached trout must do jail time.
Fish & Game New Zealand

Thomas Tawha recorded on surveillance camera with poached trout must do jail time.

The man jailed for what was described as the worst case of trout poaching of its kind has failed in his bid to serve his sentence at home.

But in the High Court in Rotorua recently on appeal, Justice Simon Moore did reduced his jail times from 12 to six months, saying the original sentence was too long.

Thomas Tawha, 41, of Kawerau was convicted in November of poaching at least 49 trout from a spawning stream near Rotorua last winter.

READ MORE:
Poacher sentenced to 12 months' jail

He was sentenced to 12 months jail in April after being recorded on surveillance camera leaving an area by a spawning stream with trout dragged behind him.

Tawha appealed the sentence saying it was too harsh.

In his judgement on appeal, Justice Moore said Tawha showed no remorse during the court case.

"There is no convincing evidence of genuine remorse present in this case. Mr Tawha maintained his stance he was entitled to take the fish by reason of his cultural heritage until the eve of sentencing."

The maximum penalty for such poaching was two years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.

Tawha refused to accept the court's jurisdiction and claimed as tangata whenua he had the right to gather food for his family.

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The claim was rejected at the time as trout were an introduced species.

Justice Moore said Tawha's history of non-compliance with court orders gave the court no confidence that a community-based detention would be adhered to.

Poaching trout was a "selfish" act and had a destructive effect on the local and national economy and recreational fishing.

The trout fishery deserved "jealous protection", he said.

"Those whose selfish, clandestine activities threaten such a valuable and fragile resource, even when undertaken with no expectation of commercial gain, must expect to go to prison when they are caught," said Moore.

 - Stuff

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