Napier man sentenced to home detention for selling black market paua

He will serve 10 months in home detention.
He will serve 10 months in home detention. Photo credit: Getty

A Napier man has been sentenced for buying and selling black market paua.

Giancarlo Harold D'Esposito and his company Hawke's Bay Seafoods Limited admitted to illegally obtaining and selling the paua in November last year. 

On Friday the 57-year-old was sentenced to 10 months of home detention and 200 hours of community service.

His company must pay a $27,600 fine. 

Over 11 months between 2014 and 2015 D'Esposito paid an undercover Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officer for 1140kg of black market paua. 

The paua was worth approximately $24,040.

"The amount of paua involved, coupled with the fact that Mr D'Esposito, knew that his actions were illegal and took steps to conceal them, makes this serious offending," said MPI manager of compliance investigations Gerry Anderson. 

"The rules are there for a reason. When people just take what they want it threatens the health and sustainability of our fisheries for future generations."

D'Esposito and his company have a history of fishing-related convictions. In 2019 both were heavily fined for 15 charges of selling unreported fish.  D'Esposito was also fined for a further 23 charges related to misreporting fishery returns. 

His sentencing marks the end of an MPI sting targeting black market seafood.

Operation River began in 2014 and has led to the prosecution of 18 people or businesses on charges of trading in black market seafood.

Anderson says the operation is an example of how seriously MPI takes black market trades.

"Those who want to steal New Zealand's precious kaimoana will be pursued and held to account."