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Breaching NZ Fisheries Law Proves Costly


NEW ZEALAND - Breaching New Zealand fisheries law has proved expensive for the owners of the foreign-flagged ship, Ta Chun No 101.

On 18 September 2009, the Chinese Taipei long-line tuna fishing vessel was spotted during a routine Royal New Zealand Air Force maritime surveillance patrol some 77 nautical miles inside New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the northernmost Kermadec area. The boat did not have a licence.

The P3 Orion photographer recorded evidence of crew of the Ta Chun No 101 in the well deck area of the ship preparing fishing gear for use. This is an illegal activity under New Zealand fisheries law, even if no actual fishing is observed.

The ship owner acknowledged the offending and a payment of $NZ220,000 has been made to the New Zealand Government.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley says this is a satisfactory outcome that shows illegal fishing activity within New Zealand’s EEZ will not be tolerated.

The RNZAF, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Fisheries worked closely to achieve this result.

“We must protect our fisheries from the threat of illegal fishing activity, including in remote and environmentally sensitive marine areas such as the Kermadecs,” says Mr Heatley.

“The cooperation of the Chinese Taipei authorities was also an important factor in achieving the resolution of this unfortunate matter,” he said.

New Zealand has the fourth largest EEZ in the world, which presents surveillance challenges.

“Our maritime patrol capability, which includes the Navy as well as the Air Force and the Ministry of Fisheries, is doing an excellent job preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity,” says Mr Heatley.

Close cooperation with neighbouring Pacific Island countries and regional agencies is also paying dividends in joint work to protect the shared tuna and billfish fisheries of the South Pacific.

“The ability to have a fishing vessel placed on the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Illegal Vessel List and associated sanctions has created a strong incentive for flag states to address illegal fishing incidents,” Mr Heatley said.

“We need to continue to be vigilant and to keep working in a highly effective, coordinated way to protect our fisheries and the marine environment.”