Paua - Hunting Tips


A number of practices used in recreational paua fishing result in high mortalities of undersized paua through ignorance and poor harvesting techniques.
Paua should not be removed from the water and placed on deck to be counted and measured. Paua left in the sun quickly dry out and will soon die in these conditions.

DO NOT USE ANY SHARP OBJECTS TO REMOVE PAUA! Paua are unable to clot blood when cut, so even the tiniest nick could result in the paua bleeding to death. Even if the paua survives the cut, the blood will attract predators into the area, and the paua may be killed before it has a chance to clamp down onto the rock surface.

It is a good practice to measure your catch before you remove it from the rock. Have your tool marked so you can gauge this. The size of the paua is measured in a straight line across the greatest length of the shell, not in a curve.
Paua can only be taken while freediving, absolutely no scuba is allowed.
Black-foot legal size is 125mm and the daily limit is 10 per diver.
The legal size for paua in Taranaki, between the Awakino and Wanganui rivers is 85mm. This is a trial by the Ministry of Fisheries for five years from 2009. The daily limit remains 10 per diver
The legal size for yellow-foot is  80mm and the daily limit is 10 per diver.
The accumulated total for recreational divers is 20 paua per diver, so if you are on a trip for more than two diving days you are still only allowed 20 paua in your possession, per diver.
When harvesting paua, use  paua-friendly tools that have no sharp edges. There are a number of tools available that minimise the damage to the paua when removing them. A blade length longer than the paua is ideal as it will give you better leverage when removing them.

In a quick, continual action, slide the tip of the tool under the paua getting it as far under the foot as possible before applying upwards pressure on the handle.  The idea is to lever the paua off the reef before it gets a chance to clamp down.

Be careful to ensure the tip of the tool is between the foot and the reef and not just under the skirt or damage will occur. If you are unsuccessful in removing it on your first attempt leave it, as damage
will occur. This is particularly important if the paua is not of legal size.
If you collect undersized paua you need to return them as close to their original position as possible. Hold them against a smooth rock surface until they clamp on. Under no circumstances should a paua be thrown over the side as these will land upside down where they can be attacked by predators before righting themselves. Paua that are thrown back onto sandy or gravely substrate may not be able to right themselves and will become an easy meal for the first predator on the scene.
Black-foot paua
A black sole of the foot of the paua
The inside of the shell is very colourful
Can grow to 180mm
Sole and skirt of paua is black
Reach breeding maturity at 70-90mm
Yellow-foot paua
A yellow sole of the foot of the paua
The shell is more rounded and dull coloured than the black-foot
Can grow to 110mm
Sole of the paua is yellow with a black skirt
Reach breeding maturity at 60mm
Follow the air holes (respiratory pores) down and to the end of the paua. This is the correct end to start at.
Place your thumb between the shell and the foot of the paua. Apply pressure and begin to separate the muscle from the shell and break through the skirt.
Tear the skirt away from the muscle so you are only left with the gonad in the shell.
Using your thumb again, push the teeth out (this is very easy and will just pop straight out)
Voilà!, Mission accomplished. One clean, ready to cook delicious paua!

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