TROPICAL FISH
Ap  /  AP
Australian Customs Service officials took this photograph of the woman's skirt.
updated 3/2/2007 7:06:02 PM ET 2007-03-03T00:06:02

An Australian woman was sentenced Friday to nine months of community service work for smuggling protected fish from Asia in her dress.

Sharon Naismith, 45, was caught in June 2005 at the airport in the southern city of Melbourne after customs officers heard "flipping" noises coming from her clothes and conducted a search, Australian Customs said.

In a specially made apron under her dress, they found 15 plastic bags filled with water and fish: one rare Asian arowana that customs said was worth tens of thousands of dollars, and 14 catfish.

Naismith, who had arrived from Singapore, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to import regulated wildlife.

"Wildlife smuggling is a cruel practice, as many offenders ignore the health and well-being of the animals," said Australian Customs senior officer Doug Nicoll. "Such animals can also be potential carriers of disease and harm the Australian fish industry."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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