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A commercial fisherman who abandoned a fishing net containing five tonnes or more of snapper was recently fined $25,000 in the North Shore District Court.
Kelly Scoles of Northland was convicted of abandoning sea fish (snapper) of legal size and subject to the quota management system in the ocean. In addition to the fine, the fishing vessel Diana, used in the offence, was forfeit.
MAF Regional Manager – North, Greg Keys, says the conviction is a great result. He attributes the outcome to early notification of the abandoned catch, quick action by Fishery Officers and timely response, logistical support and effort extended by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and the Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF).
The court heard how, on the morning of 13 December 2010, a member of the public notified the Ministry of a substantial amount of fish floating in a net south of Kawau Island.
MAF Fishery officers sought aerial and sea support from the RNZN and RNZAF.
"The fishing net was identified as a cod-end from a Danish Seine vessel," says Mr Keys. "The drift of the cod-end and dispersal of fish from it was three kilometres long when the net was located approximately four hours after we were notified of the abandoned fish."
Forensic tests undertaken by ESR show the cod-end had been deliberately cut.
Mr Keys says dumping of fish is wasteful of the resource, threatens the sustainability of fish stocks for all New Zealanders and is often very difficult to detect.
"We have a greater chance of identifying the offenders if we learn about these sorts of events quickly and I encourage members of the public who see large quantities of fish floating on the sea surface to call us immediately," he says.
What to do if you see large numbers of floating fish at sea
For further information contact:
Barbara Crocker 04 894 3427 or 027 7393837
or MAF Mediaphone: 029 8940163