Stiff sentence handed down to paua poacher caught during Operation Paid
8 September 2008
A paua poacher received a stiff sentence in Lower Hutt District Court last Thursday, 4th September 2008. Lower Hutt man Keri Smith was sentenced on 31 charges all related to the theft or illegal dealing of black market paua.
He received a term of 3 years imprisonment and was banned from all fishing for 3 years. He was charged after raids by Police and Ministry of Fisheries officers during the termination phase of the Ministry of Fisheries controlled undercover paua poaching ‘Operation Paid’. Mr Smith was a serial poacher, as he also faced charges relating to paua poaching offences previous to his being caught during operation paid.
“The Ministry of Fisheries believe that the sentences being imposed on offenders sends a clear message that the theft or illegal dealing of black market Paua is a serious offence” Said Andrew Coleman, Ministry of Fisheries National Manager of Fisheries Compliance.
Previously, Jarden Thompson was sentenced on 2 charges and received 4 months home detention. He was also banned from fishing for 3 years. Natasha Van Hout has been sentenced on 6 charges for which she received a term of 6 months imprisonment.
Operation Paid has resulted in proceedings being taken against 71 persons. In total, 283 charges have been laid. All charges related to theft and / or illegal dealing of black market Paua. To date 5 defendants have pleaded guilty, with 3 defendants now having been sentenced.
Of the remaining defendants, 29 are due to appear in the Lower Hutt District Court on the 12 September 2008 to enter a plea and the remainder will continue to appear in the Auckland, Hastings, Lower Hutt and Wellington Courts over coming weeks.
“We would like to thank again all those who ring our poaching hot-line to report illegal activity”, said Mr Coleman, “the public are our eyes and ears along our extensive coastline and the information they supply enables us to catch, and punish, those who continue to poach”
If you see any suspicious or illegal activity, take down as much detail as possible and call the Ministry of Fisheries on their dedicated hot-line 0800 4 POACHER.