By Peter Jackson
A group striving to restore paua beds at Tauroa Point, south of Ahipara, has received good news and bad about the success of its project so far.
The good news for the Ahipara Komiti Takutaimoana was the finding and subsequent positive identification of some paua from the reseeding done at Tauroa in 2011.
The paua were in good condition and had apparently done well, growing to about 95mm in that time, although still below breeding size and well short of the legal size of 125mm.
The bad news was that the paua were found among 150 other undersized paua dumped by a local poacher trying to evade Fisheries inspectors. Those paua, and another 100 undersized paua dumped by another poacher, were returned to the water.
Komiti member Lance Austen, of Waimanoni, said the poaching showed blatant disregard for the efforts of the komiti, schools and the public. All had worked hard to replenish the rapidly depleting stocks of paua at Tauroa.
"It's ridiculous. We've been reseeding since 2011 but we'd been working on the project for at least two years before that. A lot of people have dedicated a lot of time to this."
Ignorance of the Tauroa Point rahui was no excuse because the paua were well undersize so should not have been taken in any case, he said.
Inspectors had reported a huge increase in the number of undersize paua they were seeing.