Illegal operation poached pāua worth over $17,000

By Tepara Koti

Pāua to the value of more than $17,000 was illegally taken by three main offenders in a black market operation called The Paua Corporation.

Member of the operation, Sonny Gilbert Wairau (39) was sentenced for his part in the operation, pleading guilty to over 20 charges under the Fisheries Act.

Wairau appeared in the Wellington District Court on Friday and has received seven months home detention as well as being banned from fishing for three years.

Over a seven month period, the Paua Corporation illegally took 257kg of greenweight pāua and 31kg of sea cucumbers from the Wellington coastline.  They then illegally sold the pāua and sea cucumbers.

A spokesman for the Ministry for Primary Industries, Steve Ham, says the men acted jointly as well as separately in contravention of the Fisheries Act.

“At the time of offending, Wairau was a prohibited fisher due to past offending and so also faced 10 charges of contravening a prohibition order.

“This was an elaborate operation that saw large amounts of paua and sea cucumbers taken and then sold unlawfully. This sort of offending, especially around the Wellington region, has a serious effect on the sustainability of the stock and it deprives future generations of a resource that they are legitimately entitled to enjoy and consume.”

The other two offenders are also before the court.