Heavy Cost Follows Mfish Hake Investigation
11 October 2001.
The Masters, employers and vessel owners of two fishing boats involved in the recent Ministry of Fisheries hake investigation have now been convicted, fined and their catch and vessels forfeit to the Crown.
In the Wellington High Court last week the Masters, their employers and owners of the vessels Don Wong 519 and Don Fico 701, pleaded guilty to 56 charges of making false or misleading entries in their fishing returns.
Convictions were entered on all 56 charges, and forfeiture of the two vessels and product (fish) was also ordered. The value of the forfeit fish is in excess of NZ$1 million and the market value of the forfeit vessels is US$1.9 million. The owners now have 30 days to apply to the Minister of Fisheries if they want the vessels redeemed.
Yesterday, in a reserved decision, they were also fined a total of $224,000. The vessel masters were fined $5000, plus costs for each of the 28 charges they faced, and their employers and vessels owners were fined $3000, plus costs for each of the 28 charges they faced.
Don Wong Fisheries Ltd operated the Don Wong 519 and Jemico Marine Ltd operated the Don Fico 701. They were operating in a joint venture with the permit holders Sanford (South Island) Ltd.
The Manager of the Ministry of Fisheries Serious Offences Unit, Mike Green, said he hoped the price paid would send a strong message to others in the industry that this type of offending, known in the industry as 'trucking', would not be tolerated.
Mr Green praised the MFish officers involved in the investigation and made special mention of the Royal New Zealand Navy, which he said gave MFish officers the ability to, "apprehend the offending on the water and in progress".
The operation began in June, when, in a joint operation, an RNZN vessel, with Fisheries Officers on board, boarded the Dong Won 519 while leaving the Hake 7 (Challenger Plateau) and moving to fish in the Hake 4 (Southeast Chatham Rise) Quota Management Areas.
The Hake investigation is still continuing, and last week the Ministry of Fisheries laid charges against the three fishing masters of the Sur Este vessels (seized earlier in the operation) again in relation to making false statements in their fishing returns. The Korean company Dong Nam Co Ltd, which was fishing in a joint venture with the permit holders South East Resources Ltd, of Timaru, operate these three vessels.
These charges were called in the Wellington District Court on the 10 October 2001 and remanded until December.
For further information please contact
Mike Green, telephone 04 460 4723