Earlier this month, two newly-appointed Ministry for Primary Industries fisheries officers made the largest paua bust in the Auckland region in more than a decade.
Team manager for the South Auckland region, Jacob Hore, says the alleged offending was uncovered by two of MPI's more junior fisheries officers. This makes the detection even more significant.
The officers were on a routine late shift patrol in West Auckland when they came across a car they considered to be in a suspicious location near Cornwallis wharf, which is opposite the Awhitu Peninsula.
“They felt something wasn’t quite right so waited for the occupants to come back then pulled the vehicle over as it left the area."
The officers discovered four people, three men and a woman, in possession of 260 paua, 258 of which were shucked and all of which were undersized.
All the paua and the dive gear used in the alleged offending were seized, however, the paua were all dead because they had been removed from their shells when the officers found them. They were taken back to the office to be weighed, measured and stored for evidential purposes.
“If they had still been in the shell, the officers would have measured them at the scene and returned them to the sea. This is great work by two of our more junior fisheries officers," said Jacob Hore.
“This represents the largest paua gathering offence detected in the Auckland region in more than ten years. It is fantastic to see our new officers using their initiative and delivering great results.
It is alleged that the four people who were found in the vehicle will face regulation charges and charges under the Fisheries Act.