Another Vessel Seized Following Fisheries Investigation
11 April 2002
The Ministry of Fisheries has seized a second vessel and laid charges against two masters as a result of its investigations into reported breaches of the 25 nautical mile exclusion zone off the West Coast of the South Island last year.
The investigation code-named Operation Taurus commenced in August 2001. It centred on information supplied to the Ministry by other fishing vessel officers and related to the activities of two vessels fishing on the Hoki grounds in and around the Hokitika trench.
The Tomi Maru 86 was seized by fishery officers at the port of Timaru last Friday (5 April) and bonded back to its owners, Kanai Fisheries Company Ltd. the same day.
The fishing and vessel masters have since been charged with breaches of commercial fishing regulations and face a total of eight charges between them. These matters will be heard in the Christchurch District Court on 24 April.
Kanai Fisheries Company Ltd., a Japanese-based company, has a charter agreement with Sanford South Island Ltd. It also fishes under the authority of the Sanford permit. The vessel has fished in New Zealand waters for a number of years.
Earlier in the investigation Fishery officers had seized a large quantity of fish that the Tomi Maru 86 had reportedly caught while fishing on the day of the reported breach. The Ministry eventually sold approximately 44 tonnes of various fish species, and the proceeds of over $103,000 are held in trust pending the outcome of the charges.
Another Japanese vessel, the Anyo Maru No 8, was seized for similar offending last year and charges were subsequently brought against both masters. The masters were convicted last October and ordered to pay fines of $11,000 each and the vessel and product seized was forfeit to the Crown. The vessel was subsequently returned to the owners upon application to the Minister of Fisheries for the redemption fee of $202,500. The product remained forfeit and was later sold for $100,000.
This will bring Operation Taurus to a conclusion however Ministry officers will closely monitor the Hoki fleet fishing activities during the new Hoki season commencing in July.
For further information please contact:
Mike Green, Manager Serious Offences Unit
Ministry of Fisheries
Tel. 027 4429 419