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A Waihi man who obtained a customary permit to try and justify his paua poaching near Whangamata pleaded guilty to fishery offences in the Waihi District Court yesterday (8 April).

Thor Rubena, an executive, received a fine totalling $1500, plus court costs of $260, for possession of excess paua and for obstructing a fishery officer by providing false information about a customary permit. Rubena had been gathering paua by a nearby Island on 7 December. He was stopped at a carpark and found in possession of 24 shucked paua. The daily limit is 10. The defendant later forwarded MPI a copy of a customary authorisation. Inquiries revealed Rubena had misled the authorised issuer, says Brendon Mikkelsen, MPI Compliance Manager for the Waikato and Bay of Plenty District. “Mr Rubena seemed to believe he had a right to exploit local paua resources. MPI takes a low tolerance of any illegal paua extraction and will continue to target poachers like Thor Rubena,” he says. “The judge noted that Rubena was lucky not to be facing more serious charges for obtaining the permit.” MPI urges anyone who sees unlawful fishing activity (including suspected poaching and/or offering seafood for sale on the black-market) to phone the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224) in confidence. “Reporting of suspicious or illegal activity by the public to fishery officers is a key element in protecting the fishery and ensuring its sustainability for future generations,” says Mr Mikkelson.
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