Pāua poacher banned from fishing for 3 years and ordered to serve home detention

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A member of a Wellington-based pāua poaching operation has been banned from fishing for 3 years and ordered to serve 7 months home detention after earlier pleading guilty to more than 20 charges under the Fisheries Act.

Thirty-nine-year-old Sonny Gilbert Wairau from Brooklyn was sentenced for his part in a black market operation when he appeared in the Wellington District Court on Friday. The operation involved 3 main offenders that called themselves The Pāua Corporation.

Over a 7 month period, the men illegally took 257kg of greenweight pāua and 31kg of sea cucumbers from around the Wellington coastline and then illegally sold the pāua and sea cucumbers.

The value of the pāua, if sold legitimately, was more than $17,000.

Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman, Steve Ham, says the men acted jointly as well as separately in contravention of the Fisheries Act.

“At the time of offending, Wairau was a prohibited fisher due to past offending and so also faced 10  charges of contravening a prohibition order.

“This was an elaborate operation that saw large amounts of pāua and sea cucumbers taken and then sold unlawfully. This sort of offending, especially around the Wellington region, has a serious effect on the sustainability of the stock and it deprives future generations of a resource that they are legitimately entitled to enjoy and consume.”

Various items of fishing gear that Wairau used in the commission of his offending was forfeited to the Crown.

The other 2 offenders are currently also before the court.

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