Charter Operators Need Commercial Permit to Pre-catch
6 August 2003
Charter operators must now obtain a commercial fishing permit if they want to offer clients guaranteed catches by pre-setting fishing gear in advance of their charter trips, and (or) catching fish themselves and holding them in pots to top up clients' catches.
Aware of an increase in these practices, the Ministry sought legal advice, and on this basis has determined that the practice of providing a guaranteed catch as part of a package charter deal falls within the definition of "sale", as provided in the Fisheries Act 1996. Because a component of the charter price is the provision of fish caught by the operator, sometimes with pre-set gear, it meets the definition of sale.
A key determining factor centres on whether the charter vessel operator is making a direct attempt to catch the fish themselves, or whether they are simply supplying the means for the charter party to do so. Any circumstances where the operators are themselves taking fish (either prior to or during the charter) to assure their clients of a guaranteed catch, would fall within the parameters of sale.
Whether or not any fish are successfully caught by pre-set gear, the moment the charter vessel operator starts pre-setting gear, they fall within the commercial fishing provisions of the Fisheries Act 1996. Where pre-setting gear could reasonably be expected to result in catching fish, the pre-setting would fall within the definition of "fishing" and it is immaterial whether or not any fish are caught.
Therefore a commercial fishing permit is required if a charter vessel operator is pre-setting fishing gear or catching fish themselves for the purpose of providing a guaranteed catch to a charter party.
Taking fish for the purpose of sale can only be conducted under a commercial fishing permit. All holders of commercial fishing permits are also obliged to acquire the necessary catch authorisations (Annual Catch Entitlement), and must also complete and furnish the prescribed fishing returns in accordance with fisheries legislation.
In future, MFish compliance staff will apply this legal interpretation when enforcing the law. They will also encourage charter operators to have their clients enter into the true spirit of fishing by taking home only those fish they catch themselves.
For further information please contact
Ron Grob, Manager, Compliance Operations South
Tel 03 474 2690