Imprisonment for paua offences
14 March 2005
Two Johnsonville men, Iakopo Faatau and Moevao Neti were both sentenced to imprisonment when they appeared at Wellington District Court last week for sentencing on charges in relation to paua offences, having pleaded guilty in November.
The court heard that Mr Faatau and Mr Neti were apprehended at Johnsonville on 25 August 2004, selling 1003 individual shucked ordinary paua for the sum of $2,250. The paua, which were in 11 supermarket bags, weighed 117.9 kilograms.
In addition, Mr Faatau and Mr Neti admitted selling 450 kilograms of shucked ordinary paua between 1 May 2004 and 18 August; and selling 290 kilograms of shucked ordinary paua between 18 and 22 August 2004.
The total number of individual paua taken was approximately 7295 with a total weight of 857.9 kilograms. The total greenweight was 2144.75 kilograms.
While Mr Faatau and Mr Neti received $13,350 for the 857.9 kilograms of shucked paua, the estimated commercial value was between $77,200 and $214,500.
The offences were in breach of section 233(1) of the Fisheries Act 1996, which carries maximum five years imprisonment and/or $250,000 fine, and/or a community based sentence.
Mr Faatau and Mr Neti were each sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 12 months in respect of each of the three charges they faced.
Judge Anthony Walsh remarked that he took a starting point of 24 months imprisonment and reduced the sentence by 12 months in response to the defendants' early guilty pleas and the fact that they had fully co-operated with the authorities and that but for their admissions of their earlier offending their previous activities would not have come to light.
While leave for application for home detention was granted, the custodial sentences were not deferred pending applications for home detention.
In addition Mr Faatau was also banned from fishing for three years since he had been recently convicted of possessing excess and undersized paua.
The Court ordered 117.9 kilograms of paua, the sale proceeds of $2250, and the vehicle the paua was found in on 25 August 2004, forfeit to the Crown.