MPI welcomes fine for trouser fish smuggler

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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) applauds the fine handed down to a Vietnamese man who tried to smuggle tropical fish into New Zealand in his trouser pockets.

Tuan Nguyen, 31, pleaded guilty today in the Manukau District Court to a charge under the Biosecurity Act 1993. He was fined $2000 after being convicted for the attempted possession of unauthorised goods, knowing they were unauthorised.

Border officials intercepted Mr Nguyen last week (27 August) at Auckland airport with seven live fish in his pockets in plastic bags. He was picked up after water was seen dripping down his trouser legs.

Judge Andree Wiltens said he found it difficult to believe Mr Nguyen was ignorant of New Zealand’s biosecurity law, and called Mr Nguyen’s actions a “clumsy attempt” to smuggle the fish into the country. The Judge sought assurance that Mr Nguyen was in a position to pay the fine in full before his scheduled return home to Australia tomorrow.

“This is someone who deliberately broke our biosecurity laws. The individual concerned clearly gave little consideration about the risk this type of behaviour poses to New Zealand’s primary industries and native flora and fauna,” says Dave Blake, MPI Investigation Manager North.

“The fish could have been carrying any manner of disease or pest. That’s why this country has strict biosecurity import regulations.

“I sincerely hope the fine sends a clear message to anyone else who is considering breaking our biosecurity rules.” 

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