Fisheries compliance reports

Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) after requests for reports related to fisheries operations between 1990 and 2012.

UPDATES

9 November 2018 – Compliance operations information now available

We've provided a summary of 1990 to 2012 compliance operations with any related court record numbers. 

3 August 2018 – Hoki fishery compliance reports released

Reports from 2011 compliance monitoring of the hoki fisheries on the West Coast of the South Island and Chatham Rise are available. 

Compliance reports

Southern Blue Whiting fishery 

On 29 May 2018, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released historical reports dealing with compliance risk profiling of the Southern Blue Whiting fishery that were designed to better inform fisheries management practices and, in turn, raise compliance levels.

The purpose of these reports, a summary of which was released last year (2017), was to identify the extent to which the reporting of catch may have been inaccurate and the reasons for those inaccuracies.

Work led to changes

As a result of this work, industry changed its processing procedures which resulted in more accurate reporting and MPI altered conversion factors to ensure the way the fish was processed was more transparent. In particular:

  • The 2012 compliance risk analysis and recommendations looked at what fishers’ declared in regard to on-board processing of fish caught. Engagement with industry following this analysis resulted in one fishing company re-declaring 600 tonne of Southern Blue Whiting, meaning they had to use more of their allocated catch to compensate for the error.
  • The ratio calculation, or conversion factor (CF) that determines the total green-weight of fish taken after it is processed was adjusted after the 2013 season from 1.7 to 1.65 to correct for variation identified in the CF testing process carried out by fishing vessels in the 2012 and 2013 fishing seasons. In addition, MPI updated the definition of how fish could be cut to ensure consistency in calculation of CFs and processing activities.
  • Following on from the 2012 fishing season, MPI tasked observers on vessels operating in the Southern Blue Whiting fishery for the 2013 fishing season with gathering data on compliance with the way the fish was cut during processing and the processing of fish to fishmeal.  The observers also sought to identify areas for improving the accountability of vessels' factory systems and settings, thereby improving the accuracy of data regarding the amount of Southern Blue Whiting landed. Observer coverage in the main Southern Blue Whiting fisheries has been nearly 100% since 2013.
  • After the 2012 Southern Blue Whiting fishing season, the 2013 compliance risk analysis and recommendations saw MPI introduce an annual review process for surimi conversion factor testing and subsequent reporting.

Deepwater trawl hoki fishery

In 2010, the then Ministry of Fisheries began a new approach to monitoring compliance in the deepwater trawl fisheries. The approach was based on proactive profiling of specific fisheries rather than the reactive investigation-driven approach of the past.

The hoki fisheries on the West Coast of the South Island and Chatham Rise were the first to be profiled. Most of the data and information collection programme was completed during winter 2011. The main focus related to issues that could impact the accuracy of reported catch. 

The report containing the results of the winter 2011 programme and analysis was released in 2012. The 2012 internal report contained 44 recommendations.

Summary of recommendations and actions:

  • The risk profiling approach has resulted in Fisheries New Zealand having significantly improved knowledge of the product flow process on fishing vessels that process fish, such as hoki, at sea
  • This knowledge has enabled Fisheries New Zealand to work with vessel operators and focus subsequent efforts on those parts of the product flow process where inconsistency could result in reduced accuracy of greenweight reporting (often referred to as “slippage”)
  • A key outcome has been getting vessel operators to document their product flow process and provide that documentation to Fisheries New Zealand for auditing by observers and fishery officers
  • The report identified the need for Fisheries New Zealand, vessel operators, and industry stakeholders to work collectively to achieve improved fisheries management outcomes
  • The report identified the need for ongoing monitoring of some fishing practices together with the need for Fisheries New Zealand to review specific aspects of its regulatory framework
  • The report highlights how difficult it is to process the volumes of fish caught at sea and maintain precise and accurate records of the greenweight (weight before processing) of the fish caught

Fisheries compliance operations

Fisheries operations between 1990 and 2012 were done for a range of reasons.

  • Some were to get information to support the management of fisheries.
  • Others were done to detect or respond to non-compliance with fisheries laws.

These operations weren't the only compliance activities to monitor commercial fishing during these years. Other investigations led to prosecution action.

Releasing information about compliance operations

Information related to historical fisheries compliance operations was released on 9 November 2018. The decision to release the information was made because historical fisheries material such as risk assessment reports and investigation reports have, in the past, been leaked and published in the media.

The documents that have already reached the public arena are dated up to 2013.

This kind of information is not ordinarily released in its entirety, for very good reasons. Depending on the document, it may include:

  • personal information
  • commercially sensitive information
  • information supplied in confidence
  • analytical or investigative techniques which, when shared publicly, risk compromising our ability to monitor fisheries compliance effectively in the future.

Such reports may also be subject to legal privilege because legal advice will usually be sought to further action on the basis of these reports.

Most importantly, these reports contain raw and untested information that may be followed by court action. Whatever views are expressed in them, or what is summarised in them, may be overtaken by results from court proceedings that follow. Where evidence or opinions may be challenged, convictions may or may not result. The court record for a prosecution result is the final word for an investigation outcome.

Each leaked report should be considered in this light.

Also note that historically, a body of work was given an operation name when a collective effort was needed to coordinate activity around an entity, work programme or inspection-based activity. Some of this activity was for intelligence purposes only.

The leaked reports have subsequently been the subject of a multitude of Official Information Act (OIA) requests to MPI. The information we are releasing here will also be released to those who have requested it under the OIA.

MPI will not release:

  • documentation that may contain legally privileged material. Types of documents in this category include a summary of facts and caption sheets.
  • internal debrief documents that cover investigative technique and maintenance of the law issues.
  • documentation that does not meet the threshold for OIA and Privacy Act release.

List of released compliance operations

Where a prosecution has occurred or an outcome is known, an outline of the operation is provided with the court and court record number (CRN) for the file. This is provided so that you can request publicly-held documentation.

Operation 5/0

Operation 5/0 (1995/96) focused on the misreporting of hoki (HOK). The operation identified offending by 5 Russian vessels and their New Zealand owned charter company.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN:  7085005665 – 7085005907
  • CRN:  7085013746 – 7085013810
  • CRN:  2035054644 – 6085024645

Operation Arrival

Operation Arrival (2006) investigated the use of a Wellington-based fishing vessel, which was not registered nor did it have a working Automatic Locating Communicator (ALC). The operation, coordinated through the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), located and photographed the vessel fishing on the Chatham Rise. This led to the vessel being ordered back to port.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 06085002330 
  • CRN: 06085002331

Operation Bath

Operation Bath was a 2007 information gathering exercise looking at foreign vessels operating in the New Zealand deepwater fisheries. The operation was designed to use observer data, investigative analysis, and fishery officer inspections on the foreign fleet.

Operation Bearing

Operation Bearing (2006) focused on dumping of flatfish (FLA) in the trawl fishery in Canterbury. It uncovered the offending of an individual fisher trawling in a closed area and resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court file.

  • CRN: 07009500027

Operation Black Sands

Operation Black Sands (2003 to 2004) focused on the orange roughy (ORH) fishery in the far north. This resulted in convictions relating to providing false information in fishing returns and operating a vessel without a working Automatic Locating Communicator (ALC).

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Auckland District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 4004504125 – 8
  • CRN: 6004500088 – 90

Operation Blasé

Operation Blasé (2005) related to non-reporting of catch by a fishing permit holder.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 05085002364 
  • CRN: 05085002370 

Operation Blue

Operation Blue (2009) focused on the misreporting of the moki (MOK) fish species as warehou (WAR). A Napier-based fishing and fish receiving company, its director, and a skipper were prosecuted.

Apply to the Napier District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 10041500337
  • CRN: 10041500338
  • CRN: 10041500333

Operation Boomerang 2

Operation Boomerang 2 (1991) focused on the use of Underwater Breathing Apparatus (UBA) by a group of commercial pāua divers in the Fiordland area. 

This operation did not produce evidence of non-compliance.

Operation Box

Operation Box (2005) was a compliance risk assessment which looked into the reporting of pāua in the Chatham Islands.

This operation did not produce evidence of non-compliance. 

Operation Buster

Operation Buster (1990 to 1991) focused on misreporting of snapper (SNA) and bluenose (BNS) being landed by Tauranga-based commercial fishermen.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to Tauranga District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 92070004803
  • CRN: 94019022969 – 2971
  • CRN: 94019022974
  • CRN: 92070009736 – 9737 
  • CRN: 94019022976

Operation Canneries

Operation Canneries (2006) was a compliance risk assessment and audit that focused on an examination of pāua recovery rates.   

Operation Carmen

Operation Carmen (2007) focused on area misreporting and targeting of ling by 2 Korean foreign-flagged fishing vessels. A prosecution was taken against the captain and chief officer of each vessel and a company representative for the area misreporting.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 08085500798 – 0821
  • CRN: 08085501265 – 1268
  • CRN: 08085501489 – 1496
  • CRN: 08085501606 – 1611

Operation Chapel

Operation Chapel (2002) focused on a commercial fisherman fishing in breach of the Fisheries Act 1983. The fisher was charged with fishing trevally (TRE) using a mechanical device (winch) to haul a net and using a net in excess of the permitted length set out in the regulations.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Tauranga District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 1070007212
  • CRN: 1070007214

Operation Clarence II

Operation Clarence II was a compliance risk assessment focused on area misreporting of pāua by commercial fishers off the coast of Kaikōura.

Operation Cough-a-lot

Operation Cough-a-lot (2007) focused on a commercial fisher who was also a licensed fish receiver (LFR) and the owner of a dealer in fish (DIF) in the Otago region. The alleged offending related to misreporting of rock lobster (CRA) and blue cod (BCO) during the 2006 to 2007 fishing year.

This investigation was discontinued due to matters that fell outside the MPI's control.  

Operation Cutlass

Operation Cutlass (2000 to 2001) looked at area misreporting offences by deep-sea Korean vessels. The activity involved ling (LIN) and hake (HAK) off the south coast of the South Island during the 2000/2001 fishing year.

Due to practicability and safety issues, the operation could not be completed and was discontinued. 

Operation DIF Diver

Operation DIF Diver (2006) focused on a group of recreational divers who had been taking pāua (PAU) from an area in Southland. A vehicle used by one of the divers was linked to a restaurant in Queenstown, leading to suspicion that the pāua were being sold on the black market to restaurants in and around Queenstown. 

Random inspections were completed on 9 dealers in fish (DIF) with only one minor offence detected.

Operation Duet

Operation Duet (2012 to 2013) was an investigation into dumping from a deepwater vessel.  The captain, chief officer, and factory manager were charged with dumping hoki (HOK) and barracouta (BAR), and misreporting offences.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 12009503112 – 13
  • CRN: 12009503119 – 26

Operation Enclave

Operation Enclave (2004) focused on misreporting of green weights for several species by a foreign charter vessel contracted to fish commercially in New Zealand.

The company received an official warning.

Operation Eskimo

Operation Eskimo (2011) focused on salmon farming that was not in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1996.

Operation Giro

Operation Giro (2011) focused on discarding of quota species by a foreign-owned vessel contracted to a Christchurch-based permit holder.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 11009502631
  • CRN: 11009502633
  • CRN: 11009502636
  • CRN: 11009502652
  • CRN: 11009502654 – 57
  • CRN: 11009502660 – 75

Operation Lilo

Operation Lilo (2006) was a compliance risk assessment focused on the underreporting of carton weights in the squid (SQU) fishery by foreign charter vessels. No offences were detected. However, the exercise signalled to industry that the ministry was randomly testing catch leaving New Zealand.

Operation Loctite

Operation Loctite (2011) was a compliance risk assessment targeting the commercial set net fleet operating out of South Bay in Kaikōura. It focused on determining whether fishers were complying with the regulated 24 hour soak time. As a result, the Fisheries (South East Commercial Fishing) Regulations 1986 were amended. Following this amendment 2 fishers were successfully prosecuted for breaches of the set net soak time rules in Kaikōura.

The exercise resulted in positive behavioural change by commercial fishers.

Operation Marathon Man

Operation Marathon Man (1992) was a compliance risk assessment focused on the non-reporting of catch and landings of shark species by a local commercial fisher.

Operation Oil

Operation Oil (2000) focused on misreporting by a commercial fisher in the Christchurch region. 

This resulted in a prosecution.

Apply the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 0009032285 – 86
  • CRN: 0009032388 – 09

Operation Pallet

Operation Pallet (1996) focused transhipment and carton sampling in Tasman Bay. The investigation involved testing of net weights of 7 species, finding hoki (HOK), giant stargazer (STA), and school shark (SCH) being underdeclared by small amounts.

The company received an official warning.

Operation Phantom

Operation Phantom (2008) focused on area misreporting of ling (LIN) by a foreign charter vessel between the Fisheries Management Areas (FMA) 5 and 6. 

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 09009501542
  • CRN: 09009501544
  • CRN: 09009501547
  • CRN: 09009501548
  • CRN: 09009501551 – 52

Operation Pivot

Operation Pivot (2002 to 2004) focused on misreporting of inshore fish species in the Tasman region. 

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Nelson District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 04042500672 – 75
  • CRN: 05042500124 – 41

Operation Portsmouth

Operation Portsmouth (2011) focused on area misreporting by a commercial fishing company in the Marlborough region.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Nelson District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 12042500385 – 394
  • CRN: 12042500404 – 413
  • CRN: 12042500417
  • CRN: 12042500420
  • CRN: 12042500499 – 527
  • CRN: 12042500540 – 555
  • CRN: 12042500560 – 564
  • CRN: 12042500566 – 579
  • CRN: 12042500581 – 582

Operation Rash

Operation Rash (2006 to 2007) focused primarily on misreporting offences by a commercial fisher in the Wellington region.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Porirua District Court for access to the court file.

  • CRN: 080915000203 – 12

Operation Rise

Operation Rise (2004) was a fisheries compliance patrol run with the NZDF. It targeted the Napier east coast scampi fishery, Chatham Rise orange roughy and hoki fisheries, inshore Chatham Islands, and the jack mackerel, and barracouta fisheries on the Otago and South Canterbury coast.

Five vessels were identified with potential or minor compliance issues.

Operation Rug

Operation Rug (2000) was an intelligence-gathering exercise related to alleged illegal distribution of commercial trawl caught rock lobster (CRA) off the Kaikōura coast.

Operation Sahara

Operation Sahara (1997 to 1999) related to the activities of a Marlborough commercial rock lobster (CRA) fisherman. The offending related to non-filing of returns.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 900902750 – 59
  • CRN: 900902647 – 48
  • CRN: 900902272 – 78
  • CRN: 9009026760
  • CRN: 90090227280
  • CRN: 90090110455

Operation Sarah

Operation Sarah (2008) was a compliance risk assessment focused on area misreporting of snapper (SNA1/8) and trevally (TRE 1/7). 

Operation Sarah II

Operation Sarah II is the prosecution phase of operation Sarah.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Auckland District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 090004503706
  • CRN: 0905004503707 – 09 

Operation Serum

Operation Serum (2011) focused on a commercial fisherman based in Bluff targeting blue cod (BCO). This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Invercargill District Court for access to the court file.

  • CRN: 12042500028 – 36 

Operation Silver

Operation Silver (2007) focused on discrepancies in position and time data provided in catch reporting by a Nelson-based company regarding oreo dory (OEO).

The company received an official warning.

Operation Slim

Operation Slim (2003 to 2004) focused on misreporting of processed hoki by a commercial fish processing vessel in the Christchurch region.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 3000511913 – 914
  • CRN: 3000511916 – 919

Operation Slip

Operation Slip (2005) was a compliance risk assessment operation focused on unreported wharf unloads at Lyttelton.

Operation Spot (1)

Operation Spot (2000) was an investigation into the poaching and sale of pāua from Marlborough and Kaikōura. This case involved multiple parties.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Blenheim District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 1006005365 – 66
  • CRN: 1006005367 – 68
  • CRN: 1006005361 – 63

Operation Spot (2)

Operation Spot (2010 to 2011) was an intelligence-gathering exercise focused on alleged unreported unloads and sales of fish from a fishing vessel in the Wellington region.

Operation Stripper

Operation Stripper (2000) focused on the taking and landing of rock lobster (CRA) on the West Coast.  Small quantities of rock lobster had been taken while carrying external eggs, or had their eggs removed artificially.

Official warnings were issued.

Operation Sunny

Operation Sunny (2005 to 2006) focused on underreporting of commercially taken rock lobster (CRA) in the Kaikōura area.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Christchurch District Court for access to the court file.

  • CRN: 6028500022 – 31

Operation Surround

Operation Surround (2004) was a fisheries compliance patrol run with the NZDF.

Operation Thor

Operation Thor (2010) focused on the misreporting of alphonsino (BYX) and other species catch between 2 fisheries management areas and fishing in a benthic protection area.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 1200850019 - 022

Operation Thor II

Operation Thor II (2011) focused on area misreporting and targeting of bluenose (BNS), alphonsino (BYX), and hapuka (HPB) in Northland.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Auckland District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 12027500311
  • CRN: 12027500314
  • CRN: 12027500315
  • CRN: 12027500316
  • CRN: 12027500302
  • CRN: 12027500303
  • CRN: 12027500304
  • CRN: 12027500298

Operation Tightrope

Operation Tightrope (2006) was an intelligence-gathering exercise focused on discrepancy analysis between catch effort returns (CE), monthly harvest return (MHR) and licensed fish receiver returns (LFRR).

One company received an official warning.

Operation Todd

Operation Todd (2004) focused on orange roughy (ORH) landed states where fish were allegedly landed with non-compliant cuts. Further analysis was required to determine the full extent of non-compliance.  As a result, ORH from a particular voyage was seized and further tested. A judicial review found issues with the Fisheries (Conversion Factors) Notice 2000 which led to the investigation being discontinued and fish returned. 

This Notice has since been revoked and replaced. 

Operation Tiro/Prof

Operation Tiro/Prof (2012) focused on observer trip reports alleging 2 issues on a vessel operating in the southern blue whiting (SBW) fishery.

Both matters were unsubstantiated when compared against other vessels in the fishery.

This was followed up with a letter issued to the company and observers placed on the vessel the next SBW season to continue to monitor the situation.

Operation Turnup (Up Turn)

Operation Turnup (2003) was an intelligence-gathering exercise focused on compliance within the Chatham Island pāua fishery. 

The operation generated 4 official warnings for offences including possession of undersize shellfish and failure to keep records.

Operation Vampire

Operation Vampire (2000) was an investigation into a stern trawler which intentionally departed the New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone (NZ EEZ) without permission. 

Operation Waterfowl

Operation Waterfowl (2011) focused on the misreporting of snapper (SNA) from a single commercial fishing vessel in Tauranga.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Tauranga District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 12070500782 – 788 
  • CRN: 12070500778 – 779 
  • CRN: 12019500816 
  • CRN: 12070500790 – 794-797 
  • CRN: 12070500798 – 808 
  • CRN: 12070502568

Operation Webb

Operation Webb (2007 to 2008) focused on the area misreporting and targeting of ling (LIN) and silver warehou (SWA) by a Japanese foreign-flagged fishing vessel registered as a New Zealand fishing vessel in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 fishing years.

This matter resulted in a prosecution.

Apply to the Wellington District Court for access to the court files.

  • CRN: 09085501048;09085501055;09085501061;09085502298;09085502318
  • CRN: 09085502330;09085502340; 09085500893;09085500901;09085500907
  • CRN: 09085502418;09085502438;09085502450;09085502460; 09085501004
  • CRN: 09085501007;09085501012;09085502358;09085502378;09085502390
  • CRN: 09085502400; 09085500921; 09085501057; 09085500931; 09085501561 
  • CRN: 09085501581; 09085501593; 09085501606; 09085500942; 09085500950
  • CRN: 09085500956;9085501658;09085501687;09085501674;09085501680
  • CRN: 09085501023; 09085501031; 09085501037; 09085501717; 09085501730
  • CRN: 09085501736; 09085501742

Reasons for withholding some information

Some material has been withheld under these sections of the Official Information Act 1982:

  • 6(c) – to avoid prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial
  • 9(2)(a) – to protect the privacy of natural persons
  • 9(2)(b)(ii) – to protect information where the making available of the information would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information
  • 9(2)(ba)(i) – to protect information which is subject to an obligation of confidence or which any person has been or could be compelled to provide under the authority of any enactment, where the making available of the information would be likely to prejudice the supply of similar information, or information from the same source, and it is in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied
  • 9(2)(h) – to maintain legal professional privilege
  • 18(e) – as the information requested does not exist or, despite reasonable efforts, cannot be found.

In some cases, several documents are released under the OIA to provide information on an operation in the absence of a formal investigation report being available.

  • 16(e) - where information may be made available in one or more of the following ways… by giving an excerpt or summary of the contents.

 

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