Seafood-selling bar owner sentenced
4 February 2011
Fishery Officers say a Rotorua bar owner who used his premises to buy and sell illegally caught fish must have been “crazy” to think he would get away with it.
Edward Beau Flint, who owns and manages the Slab & Huia’s Snooker Bar in Bidois St in the Fairy Springs suburb of Rotorua, was this week convicted of unlawfully purchasing fish for the purpose of sale and of knowingly permitting his premises to be used for the commission of an offence.
He pleaded guilty to the charges in the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday 2 February and was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service.
“It is almost impossible to believe that Flint thought he could get away with this type of behaviour in a place as public as a bar,” said Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager Brendon Mikkelsen.
“While a few of his patrons were prepared to buy his illegal fish, the vast majority of New Zealanders rightly see very little difference between buying and selling illegal fish and buying and selling stolen property.”
Mr Mikkelsen said members of the public who witnessed Flint’s illegal activities were quick to use the Ministry’s popular 0800 4 POACHER number to report him.
As a result of their information, the Ministry deployed Fishery Officers who watched as Flint acquired fish in his bar’s carpark from convicted Maketu fish poacher Norman Evan Reid.
“They also saw him on-selling this illegal fish to bar patrons and offering to act as an intermediary between his patrons and Reid,” Mr Mikkelsen said.
Flint also admitted that he had raffled some of the illegal seafood, which included snapper and tarakihi fillets, smoked kahawai, rock lobster, mussels and eels.
“Like most Kiwis, the Ministry has no tolerance for this type of illegal behaviour,” Mr Mikkelsen said.
“People tempted to poach seafood from our coasts or buy and sell it illegally need to realise that most members of the community are not interested in having someone steal their fish from the sea and then try and sell it back to them.
“There are ‘4 million guardians’ supporting fishery sustainability in this country and, as this case shows, they are quick to report illegal activities when they see it.”
Members of the public who see any unlawful activity (including suspected poaching and offering seafood for sale on the black market) are urged to phone 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224) in confidence.