Fishing vessel seized in Canterbury
Fishery Officers in Canterbury have seized a commercial fishing vessel, a motor vehicle and 60 rock lobster pots following a four month surveillance operation into black market sales of rock lobster.
Commercial fishers are required under the Fisheries Act to land their catch to a Licensed Fish Receiver (LFR). MAF alleges the fisherman involved sold a significant number of rock lobsters directly to the public at night around Christchurch. MAF also contends that these lobsters were not declared against the commercial fisherman’s quota.
MAF Compliance Manager Canterbury/West Coast, Peter Hyde says the fisherman is likely to be charged. A person who assisted in the sale of the rock lobster and some customers who purchased lobster may also face charges.
“New Zealand’s Quota Management System (QMS) requires accurate reporting of all commercially caught fish. Not reporting fish caught under the QMS is a serious offence. The type of offending alleged is rare in the commercial fishing industry. Thanks to the QMS, the stock of rock lobster around the Canterbury coast is in very good shape and we want to see it stay that way,” he says.
People should be suspicious if rock lobster is offered to them without any documentation at a price well below what you would pay at a fish retailer. A single rock lobster offered for sale at between $20 and $30 is likely not to have been declared against quota and therefore illegal to be sold.
Mr Hyde urges members of the public who see any unlawful activity (including suspected poaching or offering seafood for sale on the black market) to phone 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
“Calls are treated in strictest confidence and the information we receive helps us stamp out illegal fishing and helps ensure we have a sustainable fishery for future generations,” he says.