6 Jan 2010

Not our job to stop paua poachers, say farmers

8:55 am on 6 January 2010

A South Taranaki farmer says the onus should not be on farmers to lock their gates to stop paua poachers.

There has been an outcry after a weekend raid by Ministry of Fisheries officers caught three men with 701 of the shellfish between them, when the daily limit is 10 per person.

Many of the traditional paua reefs in Taranaki are only accessible through farm land, and some farmers say they may act to prevent people being able to take more than their fair share.

They say poachers abuse and intimidate the farmers who attempt to intervene.

One farmer, who did not want to be named, says she has had a hostile reaction from paua gatherers after locking the gates to her coastal farm in the past.

She says her beach is also popular with families and other users, and it is unfair for farmers to have to deal with conflicts when they block access to prevent poaching.

Brad Dannefaerd, an officer with the Ministry of Fisheries, says some farmers have told him they have had enough.

The president of the New Zealand recreational fishing council, Geoff Rowling, believes the ministry has got it right with the daily limit.

Mr Rowling says there is a network for selling illicit paua up and down the country and wants tougher penalties for poaching.