Wednesday, 22 January 2020 20:52

New Zealand: Fishery officers stop suspected illegal snapper sales

EM1 20 News Int SnapperFisheries officers have stopped a group of commercial fishers in the Thames region, in northern New Zealand, who were allegedly under-reporting catches and unlawfully supplying snapper to an Auckland fish supply business. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been investigating allegations into the unlawful trade of commercially caught fish from Thames to the Auckland area. Forty-five fishery officers and the New Zealand Police executed searches at five locations, including three residential properties across the Auckland and Waikato regions. Phones and computers were seized and analysed. During the searches, over NZD25,000 (~EUR15,000) in cash was seized along with six commercial fishing vessels and a refrigerated truck. Approximately 800 kg of undocumented grey mullet and kahawai were located, along with 230 kg of undocumented snapper. Eight people have been interviewed and could face prosecution, however, enquiries are ongoing.

According to the MPI's team manager of fisheries compliance in the western North Island, Andre Espinoza, it is estimated the group may have supplied in excess of 20 tonnes of unreported fish to legitimate businesses over the past 12 months. Measures are in place to ensure the sustainability of the fisheries including accurate and truthful catch reporting. Those who don't respect the rules will be appropriately dealt with under the law, he stated. Fishery officers have increased patrols over the season and closely monitor the area, and anyone caught breaking the law will be held accountable.