Bluff fishing company Cando Fishing Ltd was sentenced in Invercargill District Court today for leaving set nets out too long within the Southland and Sub-Antarctic fishery management area.
The company was fined a total of $4,710 which included court costs and fees. The company has been previously convicted of fisheries offending.
Time limits on set nets were introduced to prevent birds and penguins, as well as threatened species, getting drawn to and then captured in the net, said national manager of fisheries compliance Steve Ham.
"Species affected by this can include protected and endangered animals such as yellow eyed penguins, seals and great white sharks.
"These nets were set in a remote part of New Zealand that is home to marine wildlife that needs to be protected. Had this net not been retrieved it would become a ghost net, continuing to capture marine life until it finally broke down.
"The charges relate to 2 incidents in 2019 which were an example of poor operating practice and carelessness.
"In July a resident of Ruapuke Island removed a set net from Henrietta Bay that he believed had been set by a fishing vessel owned by Cando Fishing Ltd. The net had been in the water for 54 hours by the time the resident removed it and it contained about 75 kilos of butterfish."
In October 2019, the company did not respond to MPI directives to remove another net just off Seal Rock near the island. That net had to be removed with fishery officer supervision. According to Cando Fishing Ltd's records it had been in the water for 42 days.
"The company had ample opportunity to retrieve the net, and needs to play its part in protecting the fishery.
"The rules are there for a reason – to protect the environment and to ensure sustainability of fisheries. It's everyone's responsibility to ensure we have a sustainable fishery. MPI will hold fishers and fishing companies to account when the rules are not followed."
Fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers should report any suspected illegal activity through the Ministry's 0800 4 Poacher number (0800 47 62 24).
The skipper was fined $2,960 including court costs and fees at a hearing last month.