A science student has been sentenced for importing and selling a prohibited fish tank algae that has the potential to cause irreparable damage to New Zealand's aquaculture.
A 20-year old student appeared at the Christchurch District Court for illegally importing marimo moss balls, a type of fish tank algae, last year.
The moss balls are prohibited in New Zealand as authorities say the algae could wipe out entire species of the country’s native fish.
"The worst case scenario would be for the moss ball to become widespread and highly abundant in some areas,” said Mark Bullian from the Ministry of Primary Industries. "It could force certain species of native and commercial species of fish and eels out as well."
The student had illegally imported the marimo moss balls on several occasions, and sold them online for up to NZ$16 each.
When packages addressed to her were first intercepted in Customs, she was warned about the possible consequences but continued to import the algae. The prosecutor said the 20-year-old narrowly avoided serving prison time.