Over the past year the Ministry has changed its compliance approach from purely enforcement to an “informed and assisted” focus with enforcement as a function within this revised design. Informed and assisted compliance focuses on ensuring fishers are aware of the fisheries rules and their obligations to abide by those rules.
It includes engaging with stakeholders in all fisheries sectors (commercial, recreational, and customary) and delivering educational services to promote compliance.
On the whole, New Zealand fishers do comply with the regulations. Between 85 and 88 percent were in compliance last year leaving the Ministry to focus on changing behaviours of the remaining 12–15 percent. It is of note that the level of offending has not increased during the past 12 months, despite the economic downturn.
The Size Does Matter education campaign held over the 2008/09 summer was hugely successful and has clearly assisted in changing fisher behaviour so that there is a greater recognition of the requirement for ensuring take is of legal size.
In the 2007/08 Annual Report the Ministry noted the well-publicised success of Operation Paid (Operation Paua and Illegal Diving). The operation identified divers and buyers of black market paua sourced from the Wellington’s south coast. More than 130 fishery officers and 70 police entered residences in Auckland, Wellington, Opotiki and Hastings to apprehend approximately 70 alleged offenders and secure evidence relating to the fishing and trading of black market paua.
Prosecution of these offenders has continued in 2008/09 with a high degree of success. It is satisfying to note that the chief offender was sentenced to three years imprisonment, a term upheld after his unsuccessful appeal.