MFISH COMMENT ON TOMI MARU 86 CONVICTION
9 September 2002
The master of the Japanese fishing vessel Tomi Maru 86 was today convicted and sentenced in the Christchurch District Court in relation to breaches of the Fisheries (Challenger Area Fishing) Regulations 1986.
The master was fined a total of NZ$13,000, plus court costs. The vessel and some fish product were also forfeit.
The four charges brought by the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) relate to the activities of the Tomi Maru 86 during July and August 2001, while fishing in the Hoki grounds off the west coast of the South Island. The charges specifically involved the vessel trawling on a number of occasions inside of the 25 mile exclusion area.
On conviction, the vessel, valued at NZ$5 million, and a quantity of previously seized fish product, will be forfeit to the Crown. The owners have 30 days to apply to the Minister of Fisheries for vessel redemption. The Minister will also decide on the final disposition of the seized fish product which was earlier sold by the Ministry and the funds placed into Trust.
The conviction brings to a close the MFish investigation codenamed Operation Taurus which began in August 2001. It centred on the fishing activities of two foreign vessels, and involved information supplied to MFish by other fishing vessel officers.
On 23 October 2001, the fishing masters of the Anyo Maru No 8, another Japanese fishing vessel, were convicted of similar charges and ordered to pay fines of $11,000 each, the vessel and a quantity of fish product were also forfeit to the Crown. The vessel was subsequently returned to the owners upon payment of a redemption fee. The product remained forfeit and was later sold for $100,000.
The Japanese company, Kanai Fisheries Company Limited, owns the Tomi Maru 86, and has chartered the vessel to Sanford (South Island) Limited, a New Zealand company operating from Timaru. Sanford (South Island) Limited holds a fishing permit, and the vessel has fished under the authority of that fishing permit and pursuant to a charter agreement between the two companies. The vessel has fished in New Zealand waters for a number of years.
The Anyo Maru 8 is owned by Anyo Fisheries Co Limited, a Japan-based company, which had chartered the vessel to Takaroa Industries Limited, a New Zealand company operating from Christchurch which holds a fishing permit. The vessel fished under that permit's authority and pursuant to a charter agreement between the two companies.
For further information please contact:
Mike Green, Manager, Serious Offences Unit, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 021 674 380