Statement from the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries in relation to Operation Achilles
There has been much comment in recent days in relation to a Ministry for Primary Industries compliance investigation into potentially illegal discarding of fish by some South Island-based fishing vessels in 2012 and early 2013.
The investigation was known as Operation Achilles. Copies of a preliminary investigation report have now been placed in the public arena.
I have today initiated an independent review into circumstances surrounding Operation Achilles, including the decision not to prosecute individuals associated with the potentially illegal discarding.
I place a high priority on the Ministry having strong credibility with the public when it comes to our role as the regulator of fisheries in New Zealand and our role in holding people to account when illegal activity takes place. Each year, the Ministry prosecutes in excess of 300 cases in the fisheries sector and issues over 3,000 infringements.
The review will also consider matters relating to a report of a second investigation known as Operation Hippocamp. This investigation also examined matters in relation to potentially illegal fish discarding.
An independent Queen's Counsel will be engaged to undertake the review.
Terms of reference for the review, and the name of the reviewer, will be released when finalised.
Findings of the review will be made public.
Martyn Dunne, Director-General, Ministry for Primary Industries