Bluenose and trumpeter at centre of massive fisheries trial

Trial begins over false reporting of fish caught.
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX NZ

Trial begins over false reporting of fish caught.

A Hawke's Bay fishing company, subsidiaries, directors and the skippers of fishing boats have gone on trial for failing to accurately record details of how much fish they caught before they exported it.

The companies charged are Hawke's Bay Seafoods, Ocean Enterprises and Esplanade No 3. The directors and managers were Antonino 'Nino' Giovanni D'Esposito, Giancarlo 'Joe' Harold D'Esposito and manager Marcus Giuseppe D'Esposito along with skippers David Macale, Ricky Parker, Robert Harvey and Patrick Stanley.

There are 355 charges that Wellington District Court judge Bill Hastings has to decide over a four month hearing.

Ministry for Primary Industries prosecutor Stephanie Bishop opened the case for the Crown on Thursday saying catches of bluenose and trumpeter were underreported then exported to Australia.

READ MORE: Hawke's Bay company faces charges

She said the under-reporting was deliberate and wide reaching.

Bishop said it was orchestrated from the top by the companies' directors and managers down to the skippers of the boats.

The filed returns were fundamentally false and was motivated by the lack of annual catch entitlement of the companies and the prospect of gaining export market advantages by selling the fish at a lower rate than others.

She said the skippers' collusion was necessary and gained by cash payments and continued employment.

Bishop said there was between 45 and 63 tonnes of bluenose and 1.7 and 3.5 tonnes of trumpeter benefiting the companies by about $380,000 for bluenose and $11,000 for trumpeter.

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She said the Ministry noted discrepancies in what was landed and what was exported in 2012 to 2014.

The defence are also expected to give an opening address.

 - Stuff

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