31 Oct 2008

Legitimate fishers fight back against paua poachers

10:58 am on 31 October 2008

Commercial fishers in Wairarapa are branding their vehicles and boats to fight against the black market trade in paua that's threatening their industry.

The move is thought to be a first in New Zealand.

The Paua 2 Fishery stretches from East Cape to Taranaki and its annual allowable harvest is 121 tonnes, valued at more than four million dollars in salaries a year.

But the Ministry of Fisheries estimates a further 180 tonnes a year is harvested in the region by poachers.

The Paua 2 Industry Association is placing signage on its harvesters and related equipment, to highlight to the public which operators are legitimate.

Its chairman, Tony Craig, hopes the move will lead to better interaction with the community.

"We are the legitimate users, we are not the poachers which we tend to get a lot of flak for," he said.

"And we are here to manage this fishery like a farm and farm it as best we can over the next 20 or 30, even 100 years."