Black market rock lobster operation shut down
20 December 2004
Ministry of Fisheries staff last week terminated an operation directed at illegal sales of rock lobster in Dunedin. The six-month long operation targeted a former commercial fisherman in Kaikoura whom, it is alleged, has been harvesting rock lobster and forwarding them to a Dunedin licensed transport operator for sale to the public.
District Compliance Manager Geoff Clark said that this type of black market operation only works when members of the public are prepared to turn a blind eye to the obvious illegal source of high value fish such as rock lobster bought at below market rates.
"We have established that these illegal sales may have been occurring for up to a year and it is concerning that nobody had reported the matter to the Ministry of Fisheries," said Mr Clark
More stringent legislation governing the illegal sale of fish outside the Quota Management System was introduced in 2001 to stem the black-market trade. Maximum penalties of five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000 are now possible.
"With Christmas fast approaching the Ministry of Fisheries urges the public to play a part in protecting the long-term sustainability of New Zealand fisheries by only buying from legitimate retailers," Mr Clark concluded.