By Elton Smallman
A Waihi paua poacher caught with more than double the daily limit tried to get off fisheries breaches with a dodgy customary permit, a court has heard
Thor Rubena pleaded guilty in Waihi District Court on Wednesday and was fined $1500 plus $260 court costs for possession of excess paua and obstructing a fishery officer.
Rubena was at Whangamata on December 7 and gathered paua at a nearby island, the court was told.
He was stopped at a car park and found with 24 shucked paua. The daily limit is 10.
Commenting on the case, Ministry for Primary Industries compliance manager Brendon Mikkelsen said Rubena sent a copy of a customary permit but provided false information about it.
Inquiries found Rubena had misled the authorised issuer of the permit, Mikkelsen said.
"Mr Rubena seemed to believe he had a right to exploit local paua resources," he said.
The ministry had a low tolerance for illegal paua-gathering and would continue to target poachers, he said.
"The judge noted that Rubena was lucky not to be facing more serious charges for obtaining the permit," he said.
The ministry urged anyone who saw unlawful fishing activity including suspected poaching and black-market sales of seafood to contact them.
"Reporting of suspicious or illegal activity by the public to fishery officers is a key element in protecting the fishery and ensuring its sustainability for future generations," Mikkelsen said.