Checkpoint paua haul has sequel in court
28 October 2011
The Ministry of Fisheries reported today that sentences had been handed down to offenders stopped in February at a Hutt Valley police drink/drive checkpoint.
The four male offenders were found to have a large paua stash in their vehicle. For their parts in the offending, two of the offenders have now been sentenced.
At about 11 pm on Thursday 10 February, an SUV vehicle returning from the Wairarapa was stopped at a police checkpoint in Upper Hutt.
The driver of the vehicle, Michael Joseph Moeke, 29, unemployed of Stokes Valley, was a banned fisher.
A total of 1204 paua were found in two large bags and a sack. Most of the paua was shucked (opened) and undersize.
While at the police stop, one of the four men ran away from the vehicle and was not located.
Fishery Officers were called by police. Mike Green, Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager, was in no doubt that the seized paua were destined for the black market. The vehicle, paua and dive gear were seized.
Earlier this week Moeke was sentenced in the Upper Hutt District Court to six months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work. Judge Thomas said she took into account the difficulty of detecting fisheries offences, and the need for deterrence and to hold the offender accountable. Aggravating factors were Moeke’s previous convictions (he had seven), the premeditation of the offending and the large number of paua involved.
Previously another offender, Arthur Frank Taylor, a 26-year-old student from Lower Hutt, had been sentenced to 200 hours’ community work as well as a $200 fine for his lesser part in the offending.
Mr Green said that again this summer the Ministry is sending messages about 4 million Guardians of our fisheries and the need to act responsibly in our fisheries. “Most people are heeding those messages, so it’s enormously frustrating when the few who couldn’t care less ruin it for the rest of us,” he said.
Ross Thurston, Regional Operations Manager, said the Ministry is very determined to stop fish thieves in their tracks and welcomes the support of the courts in achieving this.
“This was a good result - and shows that all agencies, as well as a supporting public, are determined to protect our valuable fisheries from these selfish and greedy individuals,” Mr Thurston said.
Members of the public are reminded to call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) if they see anything illegal or suspicious in our fisheries.