Head of Wellington paua ring sentenced
7 April 2009
The recently convicted head of a Wellington paua poaching ring - Wei Wen Raymond Su - was sentenced to seven months home-detention and 200 hours community service in the Wellington District Court today. In addition, Su’s two vehicles and other items were forfeit to the crown.
Mr Su was the subject of a 3-month surveillance operation by fishery officers in the Wellington region – ‘Operation Keeper’. The operation concluded in late March 2007.
At the time of the offending, Mr Su was the owner/operator of a fish shop in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt. He was the main buyer involved in purchasing illegal paua from a group of Wellington divers; and then on-sold this fish to contacts in Auckland.
The group of divers involved in this poaching had taken excess and undersized paua on previous occasions and four of the group have been convicted at least once for this type of offending, said Ministry of Fisheries’ Investigation Manager Mike Green.
“The theft of this paua was a direct attack on the rights and natural heritage of all law abiding New Zealanders,” said Mr Green. “It was a criminal enterprise motivated entirely by greed, targeting threatened paua stocks which are easily accessible.
“People like Su deprive recreational fishers of the opportunity to access the resource; they destroy an iconic customary fishery and deprive the commercial industry and the New Zealand economy of many jobs and millions in domestic and export earnings.”
Mr Green said Ministry staff had worked extremely hard over the period of the operation and all law abiding New Zealander’s could be proud of their efforts. “We know that paua is an important fishery to a wide cross-section of New Zealander’s and we will continue top work very hard to protect it,” he said.
Today’s sentence of Mr Su is the last of sentencing from Operation Keeper. To date, the seven divers involved and four buyers have been convicted and sentenced to various sentences of imprisonment, community sentences, fines and forfeiture of property used in the offending, including cars and dive gear.
However, an arrest warrant is still out for Sui Hang Chen – Su’s partner. Chen appears to have left the country within 3 weeks of the operation being terminated.