A crewmember of a RNZAF A109 helicopter peers out of the window while patrolling in the West Coast.
19 February 2016
A three-day patrol conducted by a combined team from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has recently served a stern warning to paua poachers in Wellington and the West Coast.
Fishery Officers from the MPI, supported by a crew from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) No.3 Squadron, carried out 17 inspections whilst patrolling around 680 km of coastline in Wellington’s south coast and the West Coast. A total of 16 commercial fishing vessels were also monitored in both areas during the patrol.
“Paua poaching is a tough nut to crack. However, because of the great teamwork between the NZDF and the MPI, we have delivered an unmistakable warning to serious offenders,” said Air Component Commander Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Tony Davies.
“The strong visible presence we have maintained through a RNZAF A109 helicopter’s regular patrols has served as a deterrent and has kept many of these offenders on the move. Many of the beaches or reefs are also out of the way so air support is crucial to get to these places,” AIRCDRE Davies said.
MPI Compliance Operations Manager Gary Orr acknowledged that “we still have a way to go but our joint patrols with NZDF have succeeded in making a dent on Wellington’s image as the paua poaching capital of New Zealand.”
“The RNZAF A109 helicopter is a very useful asset to cover a large area of coastline and enables us to access remote areas. As it is a small aircraft, it is also able to land easily on rugged terrain.”
All marine reserves in the West Coast were checked and cleared and no breaches were identified.
Mr Orr said the results of the Wellington patrol will potentially lead to one prosecution and one infringement notice for possession of undersized fish.
For further information, please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980