A Tauranga company that sells ‘Kiwi Kai’ at food outlets has been fined thousands for its part in a black market paua ring.
D.Lish Limited, trading as DLish Hangi, were part of a black market paua and kina ring that resulted in more than $20,000 worth of illegal sales over a 13 month period.
The company was convicted and fined $30,000 in Tauranga District Court late last month after earlier pleading guilty.
Sole director of D.Lish Limited, Luana Noble, was separately convicted and sentenced to 10 months home detention and 200 hours community work, plus court costs of $5000.
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Her husband, Hira Noble was convicted and sentenced to 10 months home detention and 200 hours community work, and ordered to pay costs of $5000 after pleading guilty to charges under the Fisheries Act. He was also banned from all fishing activity for three years because of previous fisheries convictions.
Motiti Island resident, Lee Wells, was convicted and sentenced to 200 hours community work for her part on lesser charges.
Two other people connected to the offending, June Faulkner and Pixie Wells, were previously sentenced.
One other person, Anthony Jackson, will be sentenced next month for his role.
The court heard that between 2014 and 2015 Jackson and Wells ran a black market business diving for paua and kina on Motiti Island and selling it on the mainland.
The pair were involved in mincing the paua and packaging it up into half and one kilo zip lock bags before selling the bags for $40 and $80 respectively.
The kina roe was bottled into containers of various sizes and sold for between $30 and $160 depending on the volume.
The Nobles were jointly involved in receiving 113kg of the illegally taken minced paua.
“Over a 13 month period, 250kg of minced paua and 43 litres of kina were sold on the black market. That represented around $22,000 worth of sales,” Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman, Michael Simmons said.
“This level of illegal take represents approximately 32 percent of the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the paua fishery from Tirau Point on the west coast of the North Island to Cape Runaway.
“That’s about 33 per cent more than the volume that was commercially harvested across the entire paua fishery in the area in 2014/15.
“This type of illegal activity is extremely serious. Paua stocks cannot afford to be plundered in this way. The sustainability of the stock is paramount to ensure the survival of a valuable resource for current and future generations.”
Simmons said there is also considerable food safety concerns where product isn’t handled and processed to approved standards.
“During the period of this offending, a Ministry of Health warning was in place over the gathering of shellfish including paua and kina in the Bay of Plenty area, including Motiti Island, because of paralytic shellfish toxins which make affected shellfish unsafe for human consumption.
“This could have had serious health consequences.”
“The sentences handed down to all involved should serve as a warning to anyone who is involved in similar illegal activity or is considering it. MPI takes this sort of offending very seriously and we do everything we can to ensure those involved are held to account.”
To report illegal fishing activity, please call: 0800 476 224 (0800 4 POACHER).