A Northland commercial fisherman has been fined a total of $6,000 for under-reporting his commercial grey mullet catch.
Forty-five-year-old Tane Zanders was fined $1,500 for 3 charges under the Fisheries Act relating to false and misleading monthly harvest returns, after pleading guilty in the Whangarei District Court last week.
The vessel used in the offending was also forfeited to the Crown. Mr Zanders was required to pay a further $1,500 for the release of the vessel.
Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman, Stephen Rudsdale, says this sort of offending is very disappointing.
"The commercial fishing pressure on grey mullet in New Zealand's upper North Island has increased recently with catches approaching or even exceeding the total allowable commercial catch.
"Under-reporting artificially inflates a fisher's catch entitlement, thereby providing financial gain for the fisher as well as impacting the sustainability of the fishery."
Mr Rudsdale says the offending was discovered when a fishery officer ran discrepancy reports on Mr Zanders' catches.
"Mr Zanders was, on 3 separate occasions, directed to amend his monthly grey mullet harvest returns. He didn't make the amendments until the fishery officer finally directed him to attend an interview where the issue of anomalies was addressed.
"The returns he filed totalled 931kg less than the actual catch. That's pretty significant.
"Timely and accurate reporting is the cornerstone of the quota management system.
"Under-reporting puts an already stressed fishery at risk, and undermines MPI's ability to accurately assess the stock.
"In Mr Zanders' case, he risks being banned from fishing for 3 years if he re-offends."