Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Illegal trawling caught by MPI investigation

Amaltal Fishing Co Limited, along with the master of its fishing vessel, the Amaltal Apollo, have been found guilty of 14 charges of breaching the conditions of a high seas fishing permit after it trawled in an unauthorised area of the Tasman Sea.

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 bottom trawled in a protected area on Lord Howe Rise, in the Tasman Sea West of New Zealand.

The guilty decision follows a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The Nelson District Court is yet to set a sentence date.

The area was closed to bottom fishing by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO). SPRFMO is an inter-governmental organisation, committed to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources of the South Pacific Ocean and safeguarding its marine ecosystems.

MPI national manager fisheries compliance, Niamh Murphy says MPI expects fishing companies and their skippers to be fully aware of all areas closed to fishing.

“This judgment should send a strong message that skippers and the companies they work for need to be diligent and ensure these types of breaches don’t occur. This includes having the correct systems in place.”

“The rules are there for a reason. We expect fishing companies and skippers to know and understand their obligations before they go to sea,” she says.

Ms Murphy 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 bottom trawling. Commercial fishers need to ensure they have the correct systems in place to avoid these situations occurring. When we find evidence of rule breaches such as fishing in a closed area occurring – we will investigate,” she says. 

MPI 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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