The illegal paua haul. PHOTO/SUPPLIED BY MPI
Paua poachers hoping to conceal an illegal paua haul had their escape come to an abrupt halt when they rolled the car they were in when fleeing a fisheries officer.
Alex Edward Constable, 43, was sentenced in the Masterton District Court yesterday for possessing excess paua and failing to comply with the lawful requirement of a Fishery Officer.
On November 29, Constable and another man were gathering paua together at White Rock on the South Wairarapa Coast.
At about 2.20pm a Fishery Officer spotted them carrying bags to a car.
The uniformed officer asked Constable to stop the car but he drove off at speed.
The officer followed at a safe distance.
Constable drove up a dead-end side road where, out of sight of the officer, the man with Constable allegedly took a bag containing 112 shucked paua and 6 paua still in their shell and put it over a small bank.
Constable drove off, past where the fishery officer was waiting and accelerated towards Martinborough.
After about 20 minutes Constable lost control of the car, sliding off the shingle road and rolling onto a fence.
Both men received minor injuries.
According to the Ministry for Primary Industries the men later admitted gathering the paua, which had not been counted or measured.
A total of 118 paua were seized, 43 of which were undersized.
The legal limit for paua is 10 per person a day for each person actually in the water gathering them and the minimum legal size in the shell is 125mm.
Constable told police he had taken the paua for his own consumption, and admitted it was greedy.
He also said he knew he had been asked to stop by the Fishery Officer, but panicked and chose to drive off.
Constable had previously appeared before the court on fisheries charges.
Judge Barbara Morris took into account Constable had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, accepting responsibility for his actions.
Paua was a scarce resource that needed to be protected for everyone to be able to enjoy, she said.
People who take excess paua or undersized paua significantly impact on the resource available for others.
Judge Morris said the offending was “selfish”.
Constable was sentenced to 150 hours community work.
“You need to be careful you are not back here on a third offence,” the judge said.