Family Of Five Face 120 Fishing Charges
28 April 2004
Five members of a Kawhia-based commercial fishing family and one company will face 120 charges laid today by the Ministry of Fisheries in the Te Kuiti District Court.
The charges, a result of a 10-month investigation, allege that the family caught a variety of fish in the Kawhia area by commercial methods and then either misreported the catches or did not report them at all in an effort to "side step" the Quota Management System (QMS).
According to the Officer in Charge of the investigation, Patrick Lynch, the family then sold this fish through a King Country black market network boasting up to 250 customers, many of who did not realise they were buying "hot fish".
Officer Lynch said many of the charges the family and company will face are representative in nature and actually cover many hundreds of alleged offences.
"The charges we have laid date back only to May 1, 2002; however, we believe this activity has been going on over the last 8-9 years!"
He said statutory restrictions prevent the Ministry "charging back" more than 2 years for Fisheries offences.
Officer Lynch says the Ministry considers the alleged offences to be very serious as they undermine the very basis of the successful QMS scheme.
"The maximum penalty that can be imposed on one of these offences is a fine of $250 000 and certain items including vessels and vehicles would also be subject to forfeiture upon conviction," he says.
The defendants are first scheduled to appear in the Te Kuiti District Court on May 14.
For more information please contact:
Fishery Officer Patrick Lynch, Ministry of Fisheries, Hamilton.
Phone: 027 268-6847