Jail sentence for recidivist paua poacher

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The jailing of a man over pāua poaching offences sends a strong message that the illegal gathering and selling of pāua on the black market will not be tolerated, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Kaitāia man William Rini Wikitera, 42, received a year-long jail term when he was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on 2 charges under the Fisheries Act.

Wikitera, who has previous convictions for pāua poaching, was one of 2 people before the court for pāua-related offences committed between March and August 2015.

The offending was identified as a result of a complex investigation involving MPI fisheries officers and MPI compliance investigators.

The investigation identified approximately $12,000 worth of pāua being sold in Northland and Auckland. The pāua had been illegally gathered in Northland.

MPI team manager northern investigations Simon Anderson, says the sentence sends a clear message that taking more than the legal limit of pāua as well as dealing with it on the black market is a serious offence.

"A jail term is a very significant penalty. People who are currently involved in this sort of illegal behaviour or are anticipating being involved will be punished accordingly," says Mr Anderson.

"People should also be aware that this sort of illegal activity is very often witnessed by members of the public who play an invaluable role as our eyes and ears along New Zealand's extensive coastline. 

"We would like to thank again everyone who calls our poacher hotline to report illegal activity.

"Together with MPI, the public helps to protect and maintain the sustainability of the pāua fishery for future generations."

The case of another man who was charged under the Fisheries Act over related offences is still before the courts.

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