A Blenheim man has been fined $2000 at the Blenheim District Court for repeatedly selling crayfish from his home.
The court heard yesterday that John Russell Rattray, 54, was displaying a sign outside his house on February 10 this year, advertising that he had crayfish for sale at $40 a piece.
He also advertised whitebait for sale at $40 a pound ($80 a kilo).
A member of the public reported the sign to the Ministry for Primary Industries, which sent undercover fisheries officers to the house in the following weeks.
He sold crayfish to the officers, and other members of the public, at least three times, selling them more than 30 crayfish, and making about $1440.
A uniformed fisheries officer visited Rattray at home on March 3 and informed him that it was illegal to sell seafood caught without a commercial fishing permit.
Later that day Rattray sold a further nine crayfish. He gave the second buyer that day one crayfish for free because he wanted to get rid of them.
He told the buyer to keep it quiet but to let him know if he needed any more, the court heard.
During a search of Rattray's house, seven frozen crayfish were found, as well as $1600 in cash, and a search of his work address uncovered a further 19 frozen crayfish.
In explanation Rattray said he caught the crayfish with the intention of eating them himself, but had been diagnosed with gout and could no longer eat it.
He yesterday admitted a charge of possessing fish, namely rock lobster, for the purpose of sale.
Judge Tony Zohrab said he had a degree of sympathy for Rattray's situation, but that was diluted by his continuing to sell the seafood even after being told it was illegal.
He fined him $2000 and ordered the forfeiture of the crayfish and the funds made from selling it.
- The Marlborough Express
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