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Unacceptable Abuse of Quota Management System

Sustainability Politics +2 more

NEW ZEALAND - The penalties imposed on a commercial fisher for offences committed in Southland send a clear message that it is unacceptable to abuse New Zealands quota management system, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

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Gregory James Fife received fines totalling NZ$20,000 and 200 hours community work when he appeared for sentence in the Nelson District Court. The vessel that he skippered the Remus had been forfeited in March following conviction. Fife was a director of the company that owned the vessel, valued at NZ$200,000.

In March 2012 Mr Fife entered guilty pleas to eight charges relating to making false entries in fishing returns and one charge of failing to furnish a return.

Under the quota management system, blue cod is managed by each fishstock within their respective quota management areas.

The offending related to taking blue cod from one quota management area (BCO3 South East) and misreporting it as having been taken from another area (BCO5 Southland).This illegal practice is commonly referred to within the industry as trucking.

In total, the offending, which took place between November 2010 and June 2011, saw Fife misreport a total of 3.5 tonnes of blue cod while operating out of the port of Bluff.

The accurate recording and reporting of all fish taken commercially is essential to the integrity of the quota management system, says Reece Murphy the Ministry for Primary Industries Southland Compliance Manager.

Catch rates have been in decline in the Southland blue cod fishery. Actions such as what has happened here can create a false picture of a healthier fishery than actually exists, says Mr Murphy.

It was pleasing to see the Court recognise the seriousness of such behaviour. The ministry hopes this creates a deterrent by sending a clear message to anyone else contemplating similar behaviour.

Commercial fishing relies largely on the honesty of fishers. The decision signals that abuse of this trust will not be tolerated.