A Porirua pāua poacher already under a court ordered ban from fishing has been placed on 10 months home detention for further pāua offences.
Teotulo Tuala, 64, was sentenced in the Porirua District Court yesterday on seven charges under the Fisheries Act that he earlier pleaded guilty to, following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Mr Tuala was banned from all fishing from 18 December 2018 to 28 December 2021 due to previous fisheries convictions.
However, the court heard he went diving in June 2021 at Camp Bay, Eastbourne and gathered 95 pāua. Police stopped Mr Tuala in his vehicle as he left the area and found he was in possession of excess pāua – more than nine times the legal daily limit.
“Mr Tuala had been prohibited from all fishing at the time and he knew this. He claimed that he thought his court-imposed ban had finished – that excuse was not accepted by us or the court. The rules are there for a reason and our job is to protect fishing resources so that everyone can have a chance to put fresh kaimoana on the dinner table,” says Fisheries New Zealand regional manager fisheries compliance, Tyrone Robinson.
Fishery officers carried out a search warrant of Mr Tuala’s home and found three large bags with 302 frozen shucked pāua in his freezer, which he intended to sell. They also found thousands of pāua shells buried in the yard around his home and stashed in various containers and wheelie bins.
Following the end of his three-year ban, and while still facing charges for previous offending, Mr Tuala was caught with undersize pāua on three more occasions.
“Mr Tuala understood he was facing new and serious charges but disregarded this once his ban had finished and continued to poach pāua. We expect today’s sentence sends a strong message to other people tempted to break fishery rules to profit from it – it’s only a matter of time before it catches up with you,” Mr Robinson says.
All of Mr Tuala’s fishing equipment, including dive gear along with his Nissan vehicle were forfeited to the Crown upon his conviction.
MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 476 224).