Painters stung for pāua run along Kaikōura coast

Two men caught flouting the post-quake shellfish ban along the Kaikōura coast have been fined.

Neville Allistar Moka, 39, was caught taking pāua between June and July last year while he was working on the Kaikōura coast.

Moka, a painter from Nelson, pleaded guilty to one charge of fishing in an area closed under emergency measures when he appeared in the Nelson District Court last week.

He was fined $1500 and ordered to pay court costs of $130.

Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman Howard Reid said Moka admitted gathering shellfish on one occasion from the sea opposite to where he was staying.

“He took paua from within the closed area and claimed he didn’t know a ban applied to where he was gathering from,” Reid said.

“That’s despite there being a prominent sign almost directly across the road from his accommodation.

“The sign clearly stated that the fishery was closed – the sentencing judge found it difficult to accept Mr Moka’s explanation.”

Another Nelson painter, who was sharing accommodation with Moka, 49-year-old Benjamin Beale, pleaded guilty to the same charge when he appeared in the Nelson District Court at an earlier date.

Beale was also fined $1500 and ordered to pay court costs.

Beale claimed he took the pāua at night and did not see the sign, which the sentencing judge dismissed as unbelievable.

Reid said both Moka’s and Beale’s offending was very disappointing.

“The Kaikōura earthquake had a devastating effect on the pāua fishery, with tens of thousands of pāua dying and large areas of productive habitat being lost,” Reid said.

“The fishery still hasn’t recovered from the severe impacts of the quake. In these circumstance, any harvest of pāua has a huge negative impact on sustainability.”

Te Korowai chairman Larnce Wichman said he was disappointed to hear about the pāua ban breach.

“It’s sad to see people taking advantage of our already broken resource,” Wichman said.

“We all have to work together to ensure the future recovery of our fishery – the key to this is collective responsibility.

“We appreciate the work of MPI compliance staff who, through regular patrols and persistence, are holding to account those who decide to threaten the recovery of this species which is a valuable taonga for our community.”

The area from Conway River to Marfells Beach remained closed indefinitely to the taking of pāua for both recreational and commercial purposes.

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