Stern trawler Oyang 77. (Photo: Bermejo Imaging)
Charges laid against Korean vessel over illegal activities
Thursday, May 17, 2012, 00:30 (GMT + 9)
Charges have been laid against the skipper and factory manager of the Oyang 77 in relation to misreporting and illegal dumping of fish, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advised.
Eight charges were laid against the skipper and three charges against the factory manager at Christchurch District Court on 9 May 2012, and these were served late on 15 May.
“We take all allegations or evidence of breaches very seriously,” said MPI Deputy Director-General Scott Gallacher. “We investigate thoroughly and methodically, and where there is sufficient evidence we will prosecute.”
The New Zealand fishing industry has a good level of compliance with regulations, but breaches like this do occur from time to time, he said.
“Commercial fishing relies largely on the honesty of fishers and their understanding that complying with regulations ensures the sustainability of the resource they depend on for their business,” Gallacher stated.
He said while these types of investigations take time and require attention to detail and a significant amount of work, it is important that people do not feel that their information is unimportant or ignored.
”We urge people to come to us if they have any evidence or suspicion of this type of breach. We will investigate.”
In any instance where there proves to be evidence that wrong-doing has occurred, then a prosecution is likely, he said.
The two men charged are due to appear in Court on 5 July 2012.
Under the Fisheries Act, quota species cannot be "dumped" by a commercial fisher unless the fish is not of legal size (in which case it must be immediately returned to the sea whether dead or alive) or it is a stock listed in schedule 6 of the Fisheries Act (a protected species).
A commercial fisher who unlawfully dumps fish commits an offence and is liable for a penalty of up to NZD 250,000 (USD 193,720).
However, it is not an offence if the fish dumped was parts of fish lawfully processed on the vessel, or was dumped to ensure vessel or crew safety, or the dumping was authorised and overseen by an observer or fisheries officer and was reported.