22 Jan 2009

Undercover officer testifies at paua poaching case

7:58 pm on 22 January 2009

An undercover fisheries officer has begun giving evidence at a hearing against a man accused of being the ring leader of a group of Wellington paua poachers.

Saravuthy Mao is before Wellington District Court on 16 charges of breaching the Fisheries Act.

Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham told the court on Thursday that Mr Mao's arrest came from an undercover fisheries operation which ran between September 2007 to May last year.

Ms Feltham said the operation targeted those taking and selling black market paua.

The undercover fisheries officer said he tried to sell frozen paua to the accused in January last year, but a contact said the defendant was only interested in fresh seafood.

The officer said that some days later, the accused and another man came to his home to buy fresh paua and brought their own scales with them to measure it.