Trawler forfeited, heavy fine for fish dumping

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The captain of a Korean fishing vessel was fined $120,500 for dumping fish and misreporting his catch in Christchurch District Court last week.

Dae Jun Lee, 30, was convicted of charges of dumping fish and filing false catch returns. The factory trawler , Oyang 77, worth $1.5million and owned by Sajo Oyang Corporation, was forfeited to the Crown.

The offending relates to fishing trips in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, east of the South Island, where the Oyang 77 had been chartered to catch fish by permit holder Southern Storm Fishing 2007 Ltd.

The dumping and false returns involved 73 tonnes of hoki, squid, ling, hake, silver warehou and barracouta. Fiftythree tonnes of hoki was dumped because the fish was small, damaged and unmarketable. None of this fish was reported in returns which are used to sustainably manage the resource.

Mr Lee knew it was illegal to dump fish at sea and not report it and had told crew not to dump fish when Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) observers were aboard.

MPI District Compliance Manager Canterbury/West Coast Peter Hyde says unlawful dumping of quota species undermines the integrity of the quota management system and threatens sustainable fishing.  Hoki is one of New Zealand’s most important commercial fish stocks and in recent years has been recovering from decline.

“Accurate information is also used to ensure we have sustainable fisheries for the future. The system relies on honest and accurate reporting.

“When deliberate offending is detected, we put those responsible before the court and the consequences are often severe.”

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