WA restaurateur cops $65,000 fine for black market abalone

Posted by Isobel Drake on 14th July 2009

Leung Wang Kong was fined more than $65,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to three charges of dealing in Greenlip Abalone.Two other men and a company have also received heavy fines for their involvement in illegal abalone and fish sales, after black market activity was uncovered by WA Department of Fisheries covert surveillance last year.

The court heard that Mr Leung had purchased more than 60 kilograms of abalone in three separate clandestine transactions. The abalone were not taken by the holder of a commercial fishing licence.

Magistrate Malone said the heavy mandatory penalties reflected the parliamentary intention to have a deterrent effect.

Last August, Fisheries and Marine Officers and members of the WA Police worked together on Operation Acacia, to conduct a series of searches and interviews at business premises and homes in Perth and regional towns.

That followed seven months of surveillance operations and compliance activity, leading up to the co-ordinated swoop on the 21st and 25th of August 2008.

The Collie Golden Eagle Chinese Restaurant Pty Ltd operated by the defendant was also charged with purchasing 35 Black Bream and 31 Herring and failing to make a record of the purchase, which is a requirement under the Fisheries Department Regulations when persons operating a commercial business purchase any seafood.

In June, NG Wing Ye of Winthrop was recently fined more than $10,000 after pleading guilty to excess possession of Green Lip abalone, after purchasing more than 10 kilograms of the seafood.

Other previous court outcomes related to Operation Acacia, saw the Shun Fung Chinese Restaurant in Perth being ordered in court to pay a fine, penalty and court costs totalling $10,871 for offences related to buying black market abaloneIn November 2008, 72-year-old Peter Tsang of Lynwood was fined $500, plus a mandatory penalty of $9,000 and court costs of $571.70 for excess possession of Green Lip abalone.

A number of other matters, arising from Operation Acacia, are still to come before the courts.