Couple sentenced after MPI fishing bust

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A Hawke's Bay couple have been sentenced after selling more than 500kg of paua. Photo / File
A Hawke's Bay couple have been sentenced after selling more than 500kg of paua. Photo / File

A Napier pair have become the seventh and eighth people to be sentenced on charges related to the Ministry for Primary Industries crack down on black market fishing activity in Hawke's Bay and Mahia last year.

Warren Peter Hutchings, 45, unemployed, of Westshore, was sentenced to seven months home detention and 150 hours community work on 17 charges of illegally selling fish.

Katie Marie Baker, 40, unemployed, of Westshore, was sentenced to three months home detention and 75 hours community work on eight charges of aiding Mr Hutchings to illegally sell fish and one charge of allowing premises to be used for illegally selling fish.

The pair had sold more than 500kg of paua (shell on) for $6225.

Both had earlier pleaded guilty to all charges in Napier District Court.

MPI planned "Operation River" to target black market activity in the Hawke's Bay/Mahia area and used a special duties officer who became involved in the illegal trading of fish.

The operation uncovered illegal trading in 1.8 tonnes of paua (shell on) and 600 crayfish and finished in September last year when fishery officers executing 22 search warrants across the region.

Six other people have been dealt with by the court on charges of illegally selling fish from Operation River.

They have received a range of sentences including prison, community detention, community work, $15,000 in fines and forfeiture of vehicles and cell phones and one ban from all fishing activity.

Two people have been charged with illegally selling meat as part of Operation River and the investigation into related activity of a commercial fishing company is ongoing.

MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.

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