Source: Ministry for Primary Industries – Waihi paua poacher tries to hide behind customary permit

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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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.