Commercial fisher failed to declare abandoned fish

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A Coromandel-based commercial fisher has been fined $6750 for abandoning fish at sea and had to pay a further $4679 by way of relief in order to get back ownership of his boat.

Neville Peter Lang was sentenced in Thames District Court on 18 February after earlier pleading guilty to abandoning fish on December 3, at which time his boat was forfeited to the Crown.

Mr Lang is the skipper and registered owner and operator of the 12.4m commercial fishing vessel “Vampire 2035” operating in the inner Hauraki Gulf, which specialises in a type of netting called “Danish seining”.

The charges relate to snapper, gurnard and leather jacket that were floating from Mr Lang’s boat during a fishing trip in the Hauraki Gulf. A recreational vessel travelling through the area saw a trail of fish floating from the Vampire 2035 and reported this to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The fish had been abandoned during the fishing process.  In addition, Mr Lang had not declared an estimate of the amount of fish involved on the relevant fishing return. As a consequence the fish was not captured by the Quota Management System (QMS), nor counted against Annual Catch Entitlement.

MPI Waikato Bay of Plenty District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen says this type of behaviour undermines the sustainability of New Zealand’s fisheries and the benefits people get from them.

“It is imperative commercial fishers declare species subject to the QMS that are returned to, abandoned in or accidentally lost at sea.

“Abandoning quota species and failing to report the estimated amount that has been lost undermines sustainability of our fisheries, and makes it difficult to accurately monitor fish numbers and manage them appropriately.”

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