That's the conclusion of an independent review into the Ministry of Primary Industries' decision not to prosecute fishers for illegal fish dumping, high-grading and under-reporting of catches:
The inquiry, led by QC Michael Heron and released today, said the Ministry of Primary Industries obstructed the prosecution process, that its decision process was "confused", and that it failed to follow up and "draw a clear line in the sand" with regard to fish dumping.
However, the inquiry says the limitation period for prosecution has now passed. And the ministry, while accepting the "regrettable" findings, says no one will be disciplined as a result of the inquiry.
The prosecution decision was influenced by "considerations which were not relevant", including "potential embarrassment to MPI or officials", he said.
The process was "confused, not well documented, and not well communicated", and MPI created hurdles to the prosecution, which Heron said were inappropriate "or at least unhelpful".
No-one being disciplined is the most-damning thing about this entire debacle. MPI officials helped the people it was supposed to police laugh at the law - and yet no-one will be held accountable. Which just invites them to keep on doing it. But I guess prosecution decisions aren't the only ones being influenced by irrelevant considerations of embarrassment to MPI or officials...
MPI has said it will clean up its act. But in the absence of clear accountability, there's no reason for their staff to change their behaviour, and therefore no reason for us to believe that it will happen. Instead it'll be business as usual, with MPI being the loyal servant of a criminal, unsustainable fishing industry.