An Auckland pair caught with 222 crayfish from Māhia that they intended to sell on the black market have been sentenced to 5 months community detention and 140 hours community work.
It's illegal to sell recreationally caught seafood. The daily catch limit for crayfish in the Hawke’s Bay area is 6 per person.
Following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Kim Te Ohorere Ormond-Daniel (24) and Edmond Taena Angell (24) were sentenced in the Papakura District Court (29 August 22). They pleaded guilty to 7 joint charges under the Fisheries Act, including a charge of previously selling 277 spiny red crayfish online.
"We're grateful to the Police for alerting us to this offending. During our inquiries the pair admitted they had come down to Māhia to pick up crayfish to sell in Auckland through online Facebook chat groups for between $20 and $80 a crayfish.
"Māhia crayfish are under pressure and when MPI finds evidence of people taking more than their share we will hold them to account. This kind of offending affects the sustainability of this taonga species which needs to be looked after for current and future generations," says MPI regional manager fisheries compliance, Tyrone Robinson.
In July 2020, Police stopped a vehicle the pair were driving at a checkpoint in Northern Hawke’s Bay. They noticed the inside smelt strongly of seafood and called in fishery officers who inspected the vehicle, finding 4 bins of crayfish including 193 spiny red of which 34 were undersize. They also found 29 undersize pack horse crayfish, 2 crayfish carrying eggs and one with a broken pleural spine.
Additionally, the MPI investigation uncovered evidence of past online black-market sales of 277 additional crayfish by the pair.
"One of the defendants admitted they had done this run before – taking crayfish from Māhia, and our investigation found evidence of previous online black-market sales by them.
"We expect this sentence sends a strong message of deterrence to others who might be tempted to sell recreationally caught crayfish on the black market – you will be prosecuted," says MPI’s Tyrone Robinson.
The Court also ordered the pair's vehicle that was used to transport the crayfish be forfeited to the Crown.
MPI encourages people to report suspected illegal fishing activity through the Ministry's 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).