us fines fishing vessel for breach in nz waters
20 February 2002
US Fines Fishing Vessel For Breach In NZ Waters
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) says the United States government has fined the operators of USA fishing vessel "Fetu" for breaching conditions of an international Treaty while fishing in New Zealand waters.
The breach happened in the summer of 2000, when USA purse seine vessels were fishing for skip Jack tuna off North Cape. These vessels had to comply with rules, which were documented in South Pacific Tuna Treaty between the USA government and Pacific Island countries, including New Zealand.
"The Ministry of Fisheries investigation showed that the operators of one of these vessels, the "Fetu", had breached the rules of the Treaty Agreement by using a spotter plane that was not recorded in the vessel licence and that the vessel had drifted into a prohibited area, 18 miles off the northland coast while fishing activity was taking place," said MFish Fisheries Investigator Peter Hyde, who managed the investigation.
"Even though the violation took place in New Zealand fisheries waters, under the terms of the Treaty, the country which has flag state responsibility for the vessel had the obligation to investigate the violation and take appropriate action."
On 16 February MFish received confirmation from United States authorities of settlement of the administrative civil penalty case against the operators of the F/V FETU for the violations of the South Pacific Tuna Treaty (fishing in NZ closed area, personal consumption fishing in NZ closed area, using a pilot not listed on the license application). Under the settlement, the respondents paid a civil penalty of US$11,500.
Dave Wood, MFish National Compliance Manager, said the US authorities believed the case was precedent-setting because of the good cooperation between the USA NZ governments in investigating the matter, and were confident that in future this kind of cooperation would reap good results.
"While this was not the first occasion where fishery officers from the USA and New Zealand have worked in co-operation to put together a case against an offending vessel, it is notable for the fact that the vessel's operators were penalised," Mr Wood said.
"In this case, investigations took place in New Zealand, American Samoa, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The end result was that the government of the USA took a successful civil action against the "Fetu".
"As many New Zealand fishing vessels are now operating internationally, it will become increasingly important to build working relationships with fisheries enforcement authorities in other countries, in the event that MFish will have to investigate violations by New Zealand fishing vessels in foreign waters."
For further information please contact
Dave Wood, National Compliance Manager, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 021 923 820