A Tauranga-based commercial fishing company has been fined $37,500 and ordered to forfeit its trawler for making false statements on fishing returns and fishing inside prohibited areas.
Family owned and operated commercial fishing company Fine O Muir Limited was convicted in Wellington District Court yesterday on seven charges of making false statements on fishing returns. The company was charged with fishing in one management area and misreporting its catch as having been caught in another area.
Fine O Muir was also convicted on 19 charges of fishing inside a prohibited area, relating to 54 occasions near Cape Runaway over a six-month period.
Two sons of the family that owned Fine O Muir, Jason Lee McGrath and Brett John McGrath, were also sentenced for their parts in the illegal fishing.
Brett McGrath was convicted on one charge of making a false statement on a fishing return and fined $7500, and Jason McGrath was convicted on six charges of making a false statement on fishing returns and fined a total of $30,000.
The company had to pay a redemption fee of $20,000 for the return of its fishing trawler, Kaiti 4009.
"This type of offending is unacceptable, the prohibited fishing areas are there to protect juvenile fish from bulk fishing methods, and support fishery sustainability," said Brendon Mikkelsen, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance manager for Waikato/Bay of Plenty.
The company's behaviour undermined the Quota Management System (QMS), which relied on catch limits set for each management area, Mikkelsen said.
"A total disregard for the Quota Management System places fish stocks at risk of overfishing. The information provided by commercial fishermen on their fishing returns is important information for managing commercial fisheries and making sure they are sustainable," he said.
The company's contract to supply fish to a Tauranga-based business had also ceased as a result of the prosecution.