Second paua poaching king pin sentenced
9 April 2009
Black market paua dealer Saravuthy Mao was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in the Wellington District Court today.
Mr Mao was the leader of a North Island black market paua ring. Earlier this week, the leader of another black market ring – Mr Su – was also sentenced in Wellington District Court.
Mr Mao was arrested by fishery officers on the 27th May 2008, after a 12-month undercover operation conducted by the Ministry of Fisheries. This – ‘Operation PAID’ - centred on an organised group of criminals who poached and smuggled paua from the Wellington coast. Operation PAID involved the purchase, by an undercover fishery officer, of stolen paua with a retail value of approximately $1.3 million.
Fishery officers had worked extremely hard over the period of the operation and New Zealanders could be proud of their efforts, said Andrew Coleman the National Compliance Manager of the Ministry of Fisheries.
“The theft of this paua was a direct attack on the rights and natural heritage of all law abiding New Zealanders,” he said. “It was a criminal enterprise motivated entirely by greed, targeting threatened paua stocks which are easily accessible. We know that paua is an important fishery to a wide cross-section of New Zealanders and we will continue to work very hard to protect it,” he said.
“Mao’s sentence and the terms of imprisonment handed down to eleven other offenders involved in Operation PAID so far sends the message that criminals like these are not tolerated by New Zealanders.”
Mr Coleman stated that in the recent past the Ministry of Fisheries has been very successful in suppressing the poaching trade and in particular denying these criminals the opportunity to trade within New Zealand and also export illegal paua through traditional avenues such as tour groups, airport baggage and the post. “We have also apprehended and prosecuted a large number of offenders involved in this illegal business,” he said.
Mr Coleman said fishery officers appreciate the public’s help and support in cracking down on poaching. “A number of recent poaching investigations have been helped by tip-offs from the public; we really appreciate that people are watching out for this sort of thing,” he said.
If members of the public witness any suspicious or illegal fishing they should contact the Ministry of Fisheries hotline on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224).