Tuna Fleet Monitoring Winds Up
21 August 2001
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) assisted by the Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force, have wound up their monitoring of the tuna fleet off Northland, which began on 7 August.
During the operation, which was the first joint operation of this nature for MFish and the recently established Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand, over 80 vessels in the tuna fleet were checked.
"Generally fishers' attitude when being checked was excellent," said Ministry of Fisheries Northland District Compliance Manager Greg Reid. "We had not checked the tuna industry fishing operation for some time, and their response to our giving their fishery some focus was great."
"The New Zealand Defence Force was vital to the success of this operation, by giving us the ability to get in amongst the fleet to see what the fishers actually do in their fishing operation."
The fleet of about 100 vessels was operating off the Northland coast, setting many kilometres of baited lines, catching Big Eye and Yellow Fin Tuna, and a bycatch of Broadbill Swordfish, Marlin and Sharks. From about October onwards they will disperse around the entire coastline to fish for the valuable Southern Blue Fin Tuna.
The naval vessel HMNZS Manawanui returned to port on Friday last week, however Fisheries staff will continue to monitor and check the tuna longliners while they operate in Northern waters.
Mr Reid said a key focus was checking the validity of fishing permits and other documents, to ensure the fishers were operating legally. MFish staff also looked at fishery practices and fishing effort on the water, to establish a fuller picture of how the domestic tuna long line fleet operated.
"The level of compliance was high, with only a small number of minor infringements detected, and a decision on whether prosecutions will follow will be made within the next few weeks," he said.
"As well, a number of administrative processes and fishing practice issues were identified which provide very worthwhile information about the tuna fishery. There was one incident of assault, and the offender, who was arrested, will face Fisheries Act and Crimes Act charges."
For further information please contact:
Captain Mark Richards, Public Affairs Officer,
Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand
Tel 025 248 6586
Greg Reid, District Compliance Manager Whangarei, Ministry of Fisheries,
Tel 025 542 860