Black market fisherman loses boat

02:54, Jul 11 2012
Seized: This boat was forfeited by Christchurch plumber Mark Webster after he admitted selling black-market crayfish

A Christchurch man has had to forfeit his boat after admitting selling black-market crayfish he caught near Kaikoura.

Mark Allan Webster, 58, a plumber, admitted selling recreationally caught spiny rock lobster (crayfish) at his caravan site at Boat Harbour.

In Christchurch District Court on Thursday, Primary Industries Ministry prosecutor Grant Fletcher said selling black-market fish was risky because there was no guarantee of food quality.

The Ministry of Fisheries conducted an investigation targeting the illegal sale and purchase of black market fish, in particular rock lobster, between October 2010 and April this year.

The main targets of the operation were the fishers commonly referred to in the Ministry of Fisheries as `6 a dayers'.

These people generally fish on a daily basis always obtaining their legal entitlement of six legal sized rock lobster per person per day, often taking extra people with them to maximise this but never exceeding the amount they are lawfully allowed.


The fish is then sold illegally into the local black market where there is always a strong demand and high prices paid.

According to the summary of facts, during the course of his offending Webster did not hold any fishing Quota, Annual Catch Entitlement, permits or licenses which would have authorised him to take, sell or purchase fish commercially.

Webster was seen fishing for rock lobster during weekends when he was in Kaikoura.

A fisheries officer contacted Webster using an assumed name and arranged to meet him in Christchurch, saying he wanted some plumbing work done.

He asked about rock lobster and arrangements were made for a total of $2100 of the lobster to be sold to him on various occasions.

Defence lawyer Emma Thwaite said Webster admitted it was a stupid thing to do.

Judge Jackie Moran said the offending was premeditated and she fined Webster $2400 and ordered the forfeiture of his boat, freezer, boiler, lobster pots and the rock lobster in the freezer to the ministry.

Anyone who sees suspicious activity is urged to report it by calling 08004POACHER (0800476224).

Kaikoura Star