Black market busts
A Napier pair has become the seventh and eighth people sentenced on charges related to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ crackdown on black market fishing activity in Hawkes Bay and Mahia last year.
Warren Peter Hutchings, 45, unemployed of Westshore, was sentenced to seven months’ home detention and 150 hours community work on 17 charges of illegally selling fish.
Katie Marie Baker, 40, unemployed of Westshore, was sentenced to three months’ home detention and 75 hours community work on eight charges of aiding Mr Hutchings to illegally sell fish and one charge of allowing premises to be used for illegally selling fish.
The pair sold more than 500kg of paua (shell on) for $6225, and both earlier pleaded guilty to all charges in Napier District Court.
MPI planned ‘Operation River’ to target black market activity in the Hawkes Bay/mahia area, and used a special duties officer who became involved in the illegal trading of fish.
The operation uncovered illegal trading in 1.8 tonnes of paua (shell on) and 600 crayfish, and finished in September last year, when fishery officers executed 22 search warrants across the region.
Six other people have been dealt with by the court on charges of illegally selling fish from Operation River, receiving a range of sentences including prison, community detention, community work, $15,000 in fines, forfeiture of vehicles and cell phones, and one ban from all fishing activity.
Two people have been charged with illegally selling meat as part of Operation River, and the investigation into related activity of a commercial fishing company is ongoing. –