Northland commercial fisher convicted
16 September 2009
On 9 September, seasoned Whangarei commercial fisherman Kerry Waddal was convicted on nine charges under the Fisheries Act 1996 and sentenced to 240 hours’ community service.
He faced two charges of using a vessel to haul a drag net, six of breaching the conditions of his fishing permit, and one charge of possessing undersize kingfish. Waddal changed his pleas after the first day of a defended hearing scheduled for four days.
The maximum penalty for these serious offences was $100,000 on each charge and forfeiture of his vessel and property.
The charges arose as the result of a surveillance operation undertaken by Fishery Officers in March 2008 when Waddal was observed carrying out the illegal fishing method near Mair Bank in the Whangarei Harbour, where he was targeting trevally.
On termination of the operation, Waddal’s fishing vessel, nets and 273 kilograms of trevally were seized. The fish had a value of $552.
His vessels and the proceeds of sales from the fish caught were forfeit to the Crown.
Fisheries Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley said the conviction was “an excellent result” for the Ministry of Fisheries. “It sends a clear message to commercial fishers who think they are beyond the law that they are not, and that the Ministry has my full support,” Mr Heatley said.
The quota management system and the reporting requirements under the Fisheries Act ensure the sustainability of the fishery both now and for future generations.
“The job of Fishery Officers is to make sure all fishers comply with the rules,” said District Compliance Manager Darren Edwards. “This result was achieved by some excellent work undertaken by a team of Fishery Officers who work tirelessly on this operation.”
The public are reminded that any suspicious activity on or near our beaches should be reported to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224).