Orange roughy fisherman jailed for forging catch returns
31 January 2007
A 40-year-old Auckland commercial orange roughy fisherman, Stephen John Krynicki was today sentenced to 18 months in jail when he appeared in the Auckland District Court.
Krynicki had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of serious charges of falsifying his fishing catch returns. These false returns claimed he was fishing in one location when he was actually catching fish in another ¾ over a seamount that had been closed for the season to guard against over fishing.
Welcoming Krynicki’s imprisonment on these offences, Ministry of Fisheries Investigations Manager, Mark Nicholson said that such blatant offending had the potential to seriously affect the viability of the entire orange roughy fishery.
“This is a very serious matter,” he says. “The orange roughy fishery is a very valuable resource for New Zealand and the Ministry of Fisheries and the commercial fishing industry have worked very hard to ensure its continued sustainability. Offending of this sort risks undermining all of that trust and co-operation.”
Orange roughy is an extremely long-lived species, characterised by slow growth, great longevity (over 100 years!), a late onset of maturity (around 27 years) and low reproduction rates. They also prefer to gather around prominent underwater features such as seamounts and this makes them very vulnerable to rapid exploitation and over fishing.
For this reason, the Ministry of Fisheries and the commercial orange roughy industry have agreed on quotas not only for specific areas but also for actual features (such as seamounts) within those areas to ensure the sustainability of these stocks.
Krynicki blatantly ignored those rules and instead switched off his electronic monitoring device (which continually updates his position, via satellite, to the Ministry). He claimed that his Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) was broken and then proceeded to report false positions to the Ministry while continuing to fish over vulnerable seamounts. In at least two of the instances outlined in court, Krynicki reported that he was in Spirits Bay at the top of the North Island when he was actually fishing over the Tauroa Knoll, over 100 nautical miles away in the Tasman Sea.
The Ministry believes Krynicki illegally caught over 190 tonnes of orange roughy, a very significant amount considering that the Total Allowable Commercial Catch is just 1400 tonnes per year for the area he was fishing in (Orange Roughy 1 – East Cape to North Cape and down the west coast of North Island to Wellington).
This is Krynicki’s second conviction for this type of offending. In May 1998 he was also caught deliberately misreporting catches and was fined $14,000.
Mark Nicholson said the speed with which Krynicki re-offended was also a serious concern.
”Krynicki was sentenced for his previous offences in September 2002 and just five months later he began offending again.
“Krynicki obviously has no respect for either the industry he works in or the resource that gives him his living. I think we are all very glad that he will not be able to re-offend for quite some time.”
In addition to his 18 month term of imprisonment, Krynicki was also banned from fishing for three years. This means he will not be able to hold any fishing licence, engage in any fishing activity whatsoever (including recreational fishing or shellfish gathering) and will not be able to derive any income from any fishing activity.