Shellfish poachers

Date: 1/4/2002

Police and Ministry of Fisheries officers commenced a series of raids at dawn on 13 March. Poachers plunder $20 million of paua and rock lobster each year. Annually up to 100 tonnes of rock lobster was sent to restaurants and fish shops in New Zealand cities.

The paua – up to 300 tonnes a year – was flown to Asia on commercial airline flights. Seized during the raids were 25 vehicles, 11 recreational boats, 1000 rock lobeters and 500kg of paua meat.

Thirty-nine people faced charges, and the ministry indicated there could be 60 more arrests. Those convicted could be jailed for five years under anti-poaching laws introduced in October 2001.

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