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Paua Poachers Charged In Operation Bond Enquiry

12 July 2005

Paua Poachers Charged In Operation Bond Enquiry

"Two people have been charged with serious fisheries offences following a major investigation by the Ministry of Fisheries," says Harry Hilditch, Investigation Officer for the Ministry of Fisheries.

"From Monday the 4th to Wednesday the 7th of July 2005, Fisheries Investigators and Fishery Officers from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch were involved in the termination phase of Operation Bond II."

This operation follows the original Operation Bond investigation 3 years ago when it was identified that some 6 tonnes of processed black market paua meat, equating to almost 90 tonnes greenweight, had been sent from New Zealand to Hong Kong via the postal system.

In mid 2004, with the assistance of New Zealand Post and New Zealand Customs personnel, Fisheries Investigators identified that a number of boxes had been posted to addresses in Hong Kong.

Examination of the contents of these boxes revealed that they contained semi dried black market paua meat.

"Extensive enquiries were undertaken and a break through came in November 2004 when a diligent postal worker became suspicious of a young male posting a parcel at an Auckland post office and required him to produce identification," says Hilditch.

"Subsequent enquiries by Fisheries Investigators culminated in two persons this week being arrested and charged with serious fisheries offences with regard to the conveying of black market paua between June and November 2004, from Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, and Christchurch."

Hilditch says one of them is further charged in respect of an attempt to send 5 bags of paua meat to Hong Kong through a freight forwarding company.

Enquiries are ongoing and further people are being sought by Fisheries Investigators.

Hilditch says the total weight of semi dried black market paua meat involved in this enquiry is in excess of 300kgs, giving a greenweight of over 1.5 tonnes.

The conveying of fish, including paua, otherwise than in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1996 is an offence under s233 of that Act and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 5 years, a fine of up to $250,000 or both.

ENDS

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