Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Southland seafood restaurants fined $10k

A Southland company has been fined $10,400 after failing to keep a fish sales record system for seafood it was moving between its Te Anau restaurants.

Chan Farther and Son Limited was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court yesterday following a successful prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after the company earlier pleaded guilty to two charges under each of the Fisheries Act.

“When a seafood supplier lacks the proper invoices, it creates questions over the legitimacy of what they’re doing – in this case, providing fish meals in restaurants,” said MPI regional manager fish compliance, Garreth Jay.

“Most people in the hospitality business do the right thing so that consumers can be assured the seafood in the meals they’re buying is safe and comes from a sustainable source.”  

The company has two restaurants based in Te Anau and both received warnings about moving seafood between the businesses without the appropriate invoices as early as 2016 and 2018. As a result, the company was issued a direction by MPI in 2019 requiring it to keep and maintain a fish sales system along with being provided education by fishery officers.

However, in 2020, an inspection of the restaurants, China City and Ming Garden Chinese Restaurant in Te Anau found six kilos of frozen pāua between both businesses, with the last invoice at China City having a purchase date of 2 November 2019.

During the inspection, live blue cod, rock lobster and pacific oysters were discovered. There was also frozen stargazer fin fish, rock lobster, wrasse fin fish and school shark, along with frozen blue cod and hoki. MPI says the company was unable to provide invoices for any of the seafood.

“To prevent this kind of illicit trade in seafood, robust record keeping is required under fisheries law so that fishery officers can ensure it comes from a legitimate, sustainable, and hygienic source,” said Mr Jay.

“A lack of good record keeping can undermine our quota management system and catch limits which are set to ensure sustainable fisheries. When MPI finds evidence of these important rules being ignored – it will investigate and hold people and businesses to account where there is evidence of deliberate offending.” 

If you become aware of any suspicious fishing activity, call us on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email ncc@mpi.govt.nz.

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