A Whitianga commercial fisherman and his company have been fined more than $8,000 for failing to record almost 500kg of crayfish caught in the under-pressure CRA2 fishery.
William John Maclardy, 36, was convicted and fined $2,250 when he appeared in the Thames District Court earlier this week. His company, Maclardy Fishing Limited, was fined $6,000.
Maclardy’s failure to record the cray in a catch effort landing return (CLER) was discovered after Ministry for Primary Industries fishery officers boarded his fishing vessel off the coast of Whitiangi for a routine vessel inspection in early January this year.
Because the vessel is a day-fishing vessel, catch effort landing returns are required to be completed for each days’ fishing.
During the course of the inspection, it was found that Maclardy hadn’t completed the required CELRs for 9 days between 22 December 2017 and 8 January 2018.
The total amount of crayfish unrecorded was 483kg – all of which was still held by the company at its onshore holding facility.
MPI spokesman Adam Plumstead says the offending is disappointing particularly given the fact it happened in CRA2 – a fishery where crayfish is in serious decline and has recently had reduced Total Allowable Catch limits imposed to help the fishery rebuild.
“This fisherman should have known better,” says Mr Plumstead.
“The integrity and maintenance of the Quota Management System are dependent on commercial fishers accurately reporting their catch within required timeframes.
“Accurate reporting also ensures the legitimacy of product supplied to the market. Failure to do so opens the system up to abuse. That’s why MPI views all such breaches very seriously. This type of offending won’t be tolerated.”
Mr Plumstead says Maclardy admitted he knew he had to complete the returns daily and put forward a number of personal circumstances for failing to do so.
“The sentencing judge said there was no suggestion that the offence was committed because of greed or for commercial reasons and noted that Maclardy pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”
Due to a power outage at the company’s holding tank facility, 220kg of the crayfish in question died and were seized and disposed of by the Ministry.
The rest was sold for $24,130.90 and the funds were forfeited to the Crown.
Maclardy’s $100,000 fishing vessel, Smooth Torquer, was also forfeited to the Crown.