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Fish Dumping Condemned

NEW ZEALAND - Dumping of fish and deliberate mis-reporting of catch both strike at the very heart of the sustainable management of our fisheries, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

The comments came after news that Lee Craig Harding, the former skipper of the Sealord trawler Aorere was sentenced to a fine of $45,000 over large scale dumping of southern blue whiting in the southern ocean and deliberate mis-reporting of that fish.

"I condemn the actions of Mr Harding and the other senior crew members involved in the dumping of this fish at sea, there is no excuse for the wastage of our valuable fishstocks like this," Jim Anderton said.

"The fact that such a large fine has been imposed on an individual shows that the courts also view this sort of offending as serious and recognise the potential for damaging the future of our fish stocks."

Sealord, one of New Zealand's largest fishing companies has pleaded guilty to a related offence. After application by Sealord, sentencing has been deferred to be heard at a later date to be confirmed.

"Our world leading quota management system carefully manages the amount of fish that is taken to ensure the fishery is sustainable for the future. Dumped and mis-reported fish is over and above those limits and risks the future of our fisheries," said Jim Anderton.

"It all comes back to sustainability. Offending like this can damage our fishstocks, whenever it is uncovered the government will act to enforce the law and protect the future of our fisheries."

"I have seen claims by the fishing industry that the government has no role in managing fisheries and that the industry should be left to govern itself. Incidents like this reinforce my view that there must be government monitoring and management of our fisheries and enforcement of the rules."

Ellen Hardy

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