Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Fishing company fined $71k for illegal trawling

A fishing company has been fined a total of $71,500 for trawling in a protected area, following a Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) prosecution.

The fishing company, Amaltal Fishing Co. Limited and the master of its fishing vessel, the Amaltal Apollo were each convicted of 14 charges of breaching the conditions of a high seas fishing permit in the Nelson District Court in March.

Amaltal Fishing Co. Limited is a subsidiary of Talley’s Group Limited, which owns the vessel. The vessel’s master at the time was Charles Shuttleworth.

The offending was in contravention of the Fisheries Act 1996 and occurred in 2018 when the Amaltal Apollo trawled in a protected area on Lord Howe Rise, in the Tasman Sea west of New Zealand.

In the Nelson District Court on Thursday, Amaltal Fishing Co. Limited was fined $59,500 and Mr Shuttleworth was fined $12,000.

The Amaltal Apollo, fishing equipment and the $127,000 proceeds the sale of their Alfonsino catch were all forfeited to the Crown.

MPI director of compliance services, Gary Orr says fishing companies and their skippers are expected to be fully aware of all areas closed to fishing.

“Today’s sentences sends a strong message that skippers and the companies they work for need to have the correct systems in place at all times to ensure these types of breaches don’t occur. This area was protected and mistakes like this have consequences,” he said.

“The rules are there for a reason. We expect fishing companies and skippers to know and understand their obligations before they go to sea. Breaches like this also have potential to affect New Zealand’s international reputation as responsible fishers.”

The Lord Howe Rise area was closed to trawling by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO), an inter-governmental organisation, committed to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries in the South Pacific Ocean and safeguarding its marine ecosystems.

Mr Orr says the area Amaltal Apollo fished in was closed to trawling by rules that are part of New Zealand’s international obligations to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.

“The international community has established a strict management regime to protect the seafloor, ecosystems and marine species that live there from trawling. When we find evidence of rule breaches such as fishing in a closed area occurring – we will investigate and if appropriate, place the matter before the court,” he said. 

Mr Orr encourages fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers to report any suspected illegal activity through the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER line (0800 47 62 24).

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