7 Aug 2020

Man sentenced after huge illegal kaimoana buy

6:22 pm on 7 August 2020

A Wellington business owner has escaped a hefty sentence after illegally buying pāua and other shellfish.

Paua held by Mike Vincent.

Pāua (file photo). Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Hanhui Wu bought 3525 pāua, 2040 sea cucumber, and 57 crayfish from Ola Melesala between 2016 and 2018, knowing it was caught illegally.

Wu pleaded guilty to 46 charges under the Fisheries Act.

The estimated value was $23,535.

In the Wellington District Court today, Judge Chris Tuohy sentenced Wu to six months community detention, 100 hours community work and fined him $10,000.

The judge decided against home detention because it would have risked Wu's construction business going under and put about 15 jobs on the chopping block.

Judge Tuohy accepted that Wu did not make any money from gifting the products to business associates, but said there was probably some long-term commercial advantage for Wu's business and friendships.

Wu's lawyer Kevin Smith said his client was "remorseful" and "very sorry".

MPI's national manager for fisheries compliance Steve Ham said the sentence should send a strong message to Wu and other buyers.

"Without the buyers there - we don't have the people poaching the same on the coast - and they're looking to make a quick buck..." he said.

Melesala was sentenced to seven and a half months home detention last year.