Tuesday, December 20, 2016

MPI should do its damn job

Fish dumping and high-grading are widespread problems in the fishing industry which threaten the viability of the Quota Management System. They are serious offences, carrying a penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. And yet MPI has brought only four cases in the last seven years:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has brought just four successful fish-dumping prosecutions since 2009, newly released information shows.


The four cases show various levels of dumping, including five tonne of snapper discarded in the Hauraki Gulf, and multiple dumping convictions for three Korean fishers on a big trawler whose dumping was large scale and endemic. In all four cases, the fishers forfeited their boats to the Crown.

The ministry's director-general Martyn Dunne has repeatedly claimed, in the face of claims his department was soft on illegal discarding, that they were prosecuting 300 cases and issuing over 3000 infringements a year. However, for dumping, these latest OIA figures show it is fewer than one a year.

And this is for a problem MPI itself says is "critical". So why the inaction? Simple: MPI also admits that the problem is so widespread that if they enforced the law they'd put over half of fishers out of business. Rather than do that, they've instead decided to talk up their achievements while in practice doing nothing. They've been totally captured by the criminal industry they're supposed to be policing.

This isn't good enough. MPI should do its damn job and enforce the law - as we pay them to do. If they don't want to, then they should be dissolved and replaced with a new agency willing to do the job. Its that simple.