Fishery officers swoop on alleged black market operation
9 November 2007
Fishery officers moved on an alleged black market operation yesterday involving seafood caught in Northland and sold in Auckland.
Ministry of Fisheries Investigations Manager Mark Nicholson said three men and two women are being interviewed by fishery officers and may face Fisheries Act charges.
The group had about 60 rock lobster and several sacks of kina when fishery officers and police spoke to them. It is illegal to catch fish for sale without a permit.
Mr Nicholson said the surveillance operation involved fishery officers from across the Northland and Auckland regions who were watching the activities of the group for three weeks.
“We believe that two people were involved with the diving and transportation of the seafood from Northland’s east coast to Auckland. Another two people were involved with the receiving of the seafood and then the organisation of the sales. Another person is being spoken to in respect of the purchase of the product.
“This sort of blatant black market activity strikes right at the heart of the sustainability of our fisheries. We have rules in place to ensure there will be enough fish for today and future generations. It’s disappointing when people break the rules to line their pockets. If everyone took what they liked, parts of our coast would get fished out very quickly.”
Fishery officers seized four cars, a four metre boat, cray pots and other fishing gear that was involved in the alleged black market activity.
Penalties for Fisheries Act offences are set at a maximum of $250,000 with forfeiture of vessels and vehicles possible to reflect the importance placed on protecting our fisheries.
Anyone who sees suspicious fishing activity should contact the Ministry of Fisheries on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).