‘Operation Island’ leaves poachers and their clients stranded
24 September 2008
An Auckland takeaway bar owner has been fined $4410, and forfeit of a car, in the Auckland District Court today, 24th September 2008, after she was convicted of handling and selling illegal kina and rock lobster, supplied to her by a husband and wife poaching team.
Pamela Bhana, 48, from Pukekohe and owner of Bonanza Bar Takeaways, was charged as part of a Ministry of Fisheries investigation named, Operation Island, which took place late last year.
Bhana admitted to purchasing a total of 38 sacks of kina and 95 rock lobsters, valued at a total of $2,660.
Operation Island was the investigation into the illegal fishing activities of a husband and wife team at Te Ngaire Bay, the couple are yet to appear in Court.
They supplied the kina and rock lobster to the defendant, Ms Bhana, who then on-sold to members of the public.
The couple came to the attention of fishery officers during a surveillance operation where they were diving and taking kina and rock lobster in contravention of the Fisheries Act 1996 and associated Regulations.
On November 1 2007 the pair was observed unloading a number of sacks from their vehicle to the back of Ms Bhana’s home. The sacks matched those that had been seen by fishery officers the previous day at Te Ngare Bay.
Immediately after the delivery, the kina and rock lobster were observed being driven from Ms Bhana’s house to Counties Inn in Pukekohe.
She was then observed selling the illegal kina and spiny rock lobster at a raffle in the Counties Inn later that evening.
On November 8 fishery officers raided her house and she was then charged with 7 offences under the Fisheries Act 1996.
“Operation Island has been very successful in unearthing and destroying this network of poachers and their clients,” said Auckland Investigations Manager, Mark Nicholson.
“We hope that this conviction will prove to be a deterrent to anyone thinking of buying illegal fish and to those involved in this trade, the Ministry of Fisheries will catch you,” he said.