CLOSE to 1500 undersize paua have been seized by fisheries officers over three days up to Sunday evening.
On Friday, fisheries officers seized 212 shucked undersize paua from alleged poachers at Northern Makorori Beach. At Waihau Beach (Loisel’s) the next day, officers seized 274 undersized paua. Two vehicles are subject to seizure.
Inquiries are continuing after 254 shucked undersize paua were seized by fisheries officers at Sponge Bay on Sunday.
Three vehicles and a vessel are subject to seizure.
Other paua thefts over the three days brought the total number of paua seized by officers to a total of 1500 — an average of 500 a day.
The number of non-shucked paua seized by officers usually averages out at about 70 per haul.
The Ministry of Primary Industries’ summer strategy is for fisheries officers to maintain a high profile. Three teams of officers patrol the coastline from south of Young Nick’s Head to Matata.
“We had a full complement of staff over Christmas and New Year to maintain vigilance,” said Mr Teneti.
“We cover some remote areas of coastline as well as high non-compliance areas like Sponge Bay and Waihau Bay at East Cape.
“We tried to cover every nook and cranny over that three days up to Sunday evening. Poachers try all the counter-surveillance tricks. You see heads popping up and down in the dunes.”
So far this season the strategy has brought about 25 prosecutions, during which time six vehicles and three vessels were seized. On three occasions over the past four weeks, poachers tried to obstruct officers.
An off-duty team called into the Ruatoria area resulted in another successful prosecution and a team based at Waihau Bay brought about a higher level of compliance during their time there.
People’s attitude towards fisheries officers efforts was disappointing sometimes, said Mr Teneti.
Once the paperwork was done, convictions were matter for the court to decide.
Mr Teneti said many poachers were gang members, affiliates or prospects who fished to order.
Mr Williams said he could just about guarantee the paua from the Friday to Sunday haul were destined for a buyer.
“We’ve had three incidents of that quantity destined for the black market. If we get them at the point of take, we can limit distribution.”