Two men were sentenced to community detention and fined for buying black market fish in an undercover sting by fisheries officers.
Peter Keith Wah, 60, was sentenced on charges of obtaining a benefit by buying paua, knowingly permitting premises of Dumplings on Riccarton take-away restaurant to be used for an offence, and failing to keep fish transaction records.
Qui Sheng Ying, 47, was sentenced on a charge of obtaining a benefit by buying spiny rock lobster at Daphne’s Restaurant where he is a co-director and head chef, responsible for ordering the food.
The prosecutions were brought by the Ministry for Primary Industries as part of its Operation Dragon investigation.
Defence counsel for both men, Kerry Cook, said they did not seek out the offending, knew that what they were doing was illegal, but gave in to temptation when the undercover person offered the fish to them.
He said both men had good character, and excellent references.
Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert said the offending was against the whole community, and Wah had purchased illegal fish nine times over six months, involving 867 paua which he had paid $2785 for, but was legitimately worth $11,000.
He sentenced him to three months’ community detention with a curfew from 8pm to 5am, 60 hours’ community work, $8000 fine, and forfeiture of his mobile phone and car.
Ying arranged for spiny rocklobster to be delivered to the restaurant six times, and paid $5000 for over 147kilos. It was $12,000 less than its true market value.
Judge Gilbert sentenced him to four months’ community detention with a curfew from 12.30am to 9am, 80 hours community work, a fine of $12,000, and forfeiture of two live crayfish water tanks.
A courier driver, 57-year-old Derek Sutton Yee, also involved in the offending, had previously received a sentence of four months’ community detention, 100 hours’ community work, and a $15,000 fine.
Judge Gilbert said the consequences of the offending compromised the country’s ability to manage fisheries stock, and involved costs in the millions of dollars, with the potential to impact on our valued clean green image.