A four-year prison sentence, with a non-parole period of two
years, for a Dunedin paua poacher has been welcomed by the
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Ryan Karl Tapsell (40) was sentenced in the Dunedin District
Court on Friday after being convicted of 15 Fisheries Act
1996 charges in relation to falsely obtaining a customary
authorisation to take paua, illegally taking paua and selling
paua without a permit.
Equipment used in the offending, including two vehicles, a
boat and outboard motor, several cellphones and a large
amount of diving gear was forfeited to the Crown.
The penalty was one year short of the maximum sentence
allowed under the Fisheries Act - five years or a $250,000
MPI Otago district compliance manager Murray Pridham said he
was pleased to see the courts taking a strong stance.
''This sentence shows that offenders will receive significant
prison time for committing serious fisheries offences.''
Black market dealings in paua were effectively theft of a
national resource and poachers not only risked fish stocks
but were stealing from their communities.
The offending was premeditated and a complex commercial
enterprise that might well have undercut legitimate operators
who relied on fish dealers to buy their product, not to
mention the potential health effects from paua that had not
been processed in accordance with the required health
standards, Mr Pridham said.
It was estimated about 1580 paua were taken and that such
operations posed a threat to the sustainability of the paua
Tapsell targeted the same area each time without any regard
for the impact on the fishery, Mr Pridham said.
His decisions also undermined the customary authorisation
There is a limit of 10 paua per person per day, at a minimum
''We also greatly appreciate the support of the community in
reporting poachers and those who break the rules. If you see
people acting suspiciously, we want to know about it.''