Poachers caught with 1250 paua
A group of paua thieves failed to heed the lessons from Operation PAID, the recently completed long running paua poaching operation where more than 50 offenders were convicted and given heavy sentences.
Four men were sentenced in Wellington District Court on June 17 for their part in the poaching of 1259 paua late last year.
On the evening of October 7, 2010, Fisheries officers entered a property in Cannons Creek where they found 1259 shucked paua weighing about 105 kilograms.
Several men were charged with various fisheries offences, some of which involved taking paua for sale, which is punishable by up to five years’ jail and a $250,000 fine for each charge.
Two men were sentenced to eight months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work, another to five months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work, and the fourth to 300 hours’ community work.
Some individuals connected with the investigation are still before the court.
A Laotian man, who had admitted buying the paua for between $15 and $18 a kilogram with the intention of selling them for $30 a kilo in Auckland, was sentenced in March to 3.5 months’ home deten-
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Phil Heatley tion and 200 hours’ community work.
Ministry of Fisheries field operations manager Mike Green said it was disturbing that organised criminal activity in the paua fishery was still happening.
‘‘I would have thought that the successful conclusion of Operation PAID in particular would have put these sorts of criminals off.
‘‘Evidently not – we need to steel ourselves to continue the fight and we’ll do everything we possibly can to stop the thieves.’’
Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley congratulated the ministry team on their result and reiterated the Government’s determination to support its efforts.
‘‘These activities must and will be stopped,’’ Mr Heatley said.
‘‘The paua fishery must be preserved and the Government will take all necessary steps to make sure this happens.’’
The commercial wholesale value of paua meat is currently around $130 a kilogram.