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Imprisonment for paua offence


18 July 2005

MEDIA RELEASE
From the Ministry of Fisheries

Imprisonment for paua offence

Wun Yin Chow of Lower Hutt was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment when he appeared at Wellington District Court this morning for sentencing on a charge in relation to paua offending, having pleaded guilty in June.

The court heard that Mr Chow was apprehended at Johnsonville on 25 August 2004, buying 1003 individual shucked ordinary paua for the sum of $2,250 from two Johnsonville men, Iakopo Faatau and Moevao Neti. The paua, which were in 11 supermarket bags, weighed 117.9 kilograms, and had an estimated value of approximately $10,600.

The offence was in breach of section 233 of the Fisheries Act 1996, which carries maximum five years imprisonment and/or $250,000 fine, and/or a community based sentence.

Judge Bruce Davidson remarked that he took a starting point of 12 months imprisonment and reduced the sentence by 4 months in response to the defendant's guilty plea and other mitigating factors.

While leave for application for home detention was granted, the custodial sentence was not deferred pending an application for home detention.

Mr Faatau and Mr Neti were also charged and each sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 12 months on 9 March 2005, having pleaded guilty in November 2004.

On 9 March, the Court ordered the 117.9 kilograms of paua, the sale proceeds of $2250, and the vehicle the paua was found in on 25 August 2004, forfeit to the Crown.

Ministry of Fisheries District Compliance manager Ross Thurston says staff are pleased with the severity of the sentences.

"The toughness of sentencing shows how seriously the courts view this type of fish thieving," he says. "This reflects the lack of tolerance the New Zealand public has for fish thieves, and sends a strong message to anyone out there contemplating such activities.

"Observant members of the public continually provide us with valuable information. This sentencing is the end result of several such phone calls."

ENDS


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