Coromandel fish stocks plundered by poachers

By Matiu Hamuera

A rāhui on Pink Maomao has been placed along the eastern Coromandel peninsula due to dwindling stocks and a Hauraki iwi is blaming poachers. 

Ngāti Hei kaumātua, Joe Davis, placed the voluntary rāhui over the area as a temporary measure until the government takes action. 

He says poachers have been filmed coming ashore with thousands of the fish

“We have the locals there filming the comings and goings. Up to four days a week they come down, fill up their fish bins, take them back to where ever they’re going to, emptying their bins and they’re back the next day.”

He says Pink Maomao is considered a delicacy by the local iwi at Waitaha o Hei.

“It was a favourite of one particular chief who lived in Tairua in ancient times. It’s an important fish that doesn’t have the protection that it needs.”

Now that there is a market for pink maomao, Davis says something needs to be done, “otherwise our mokopuna will never see this fish.”

“We need to bring this under some legislative protection. We can do so much with rāhui but really it’s the will of the people and the collaboration with the communities we have over here on the eastern seaboard,” Davis says.

Davis says longfin perch, a species of sea bass, is also in danger of over-fishing because it isn’t included in recreational catch limits. 

“We have this abuse of a loophole that’s being flouted at the moment and we need to do something about it,” Davis says.

He believes the poachers are supplying restaurants in Auckland and Hamilton.

“Whitianga is centrally placed between main centers, access is probably two to three hours away, so you can get them to the restaurateurs' tables within three hours. There’s a lot of pluses for them, the poachers, but certainly a lot of minuses for us back home,” Davis says.

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