Crayfish sold on black market

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 12:25 08/11/2012

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A fisherman illegally sold crayfish to try to make money after falling into the jaws of loan sharks.

The story of Isacc Lee Albert Kereama, 37, who fishes off Canterbury, was told at the Christchurch District Court session at Nga Hau e Wha marae today.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of making money by unlawfully selling rock lobster.

The conviction means his leased fishing boat, Crusader 2, flat deck truck, and his lobster pots and fishing gear are now forfeit.

The owner of the vessel, which is valued at $65,000, can now make an application for relief from forfeiture.

Judge Gary MacAskill remanded Kereama on bail for sentencing on January 31, with a report on his suitability for community detention or home detention.

Fisheries prosecutor Grant Fletcher said Kereama had been fishing out of Tikao Bay on Banks Peninsula. He had landed and sold rock lobster that was not reported, with sales sometimes arranged by text message.

Some of his transactions were significant, amounting to more than $1000 a time. Most of the sales went to one buyer. This buyer and four other people he on-sold the crayfish to, have been charged and are being prosecuted separately.

When fisheries officers interviewed him, Kereama said his business had not made the money he expected and he had become desperate.

Defence counsel Mark Callaghan said Kereama was not in a position to pay a fine. He had offended after falling into the grip of loan sharks and finding he was paying exorbitant interest rates.

Kereama was at court for the hearing today, though he now works in a factory on the Chatham Islands.

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