MPI closes online fish black market
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance officers today terminated an operation against four groups in Auckland who were selling black market seafood.
MPI compliance officers supported, by the NZ Police, executed search warrants on five South Auckland properties that were identified, from a Facebook page, selling black-market seafood to the public.
MPI compliance officers are talking to ten people in relation to the operation. Investigations are continuing with a view to laying charges under the Fisheries Act.
MPI Compliance Director Dean Baigent says compliance officers learned that a Facebook page was being used for one-off sales of seafood in Auckland and that the page had more than 400 followers.
MPI has been monitoring these groups and has received numerous reports from the public of this illegal activity.
“Public demand was growing quickly and there was offers of supplying seafood as far afield as Christchurch and Whangarei.”
Mr Baigent says this type of black market operation poses a risk to the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries and to the health of people consuming the product.
“At one point a group was offering super sacks of kina (thought to be wool fadges) for $500 each.”
“People who buy black market seafood expose themselves to potential health risks as there is no assurance that this product has have been processed or stored hygienically.”
It is illegal for fishers to sell recreational catch and illegal to purchase fish from an illegal source, such as this Facebook site. A conviction for this serous fisheries offending carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
MPI encourages people to report any suspicious fishing or trading activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). All calls are confidential.