Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pervasive criminality

Fishing is a criminal industry. Operation Achilles revealed that 80% of fishers under-reported their catch, dumped fish, or committed other serious breaches of fisheries law. And if you were thinking that that was just an isolated incident, a few bad apples, you're wrong:

A Ministry report obtained by Newshub has revealed extensive illegal activity in the set net fishery off Kaikoura, including illegal dumping, misreporting and "virtually non-existent" reporting of marine mammal bycatch.

The Kaikoura coast is home to a host of marine life and a popular set net fishery. The Operation Loctite report, which details illegal behaviour by four out of five set net fishermen in the area, was leaked to Newshub.


A compliance team investigated in 2011 to see if fishers were obeying the 24-hour soak time rules - that's the time limit for how long a net is allowed to be left in the water before being collected.

The team uncovered a range of illegal activity, with fishers leaving nets in the water for seven times the limit in some cases.

A dead fur seal was hauled up in one net and quote species of fish were dumped. False reporting of catch was noted, and reporting of marine mammal catch was "virtually non-existent".

Of course, no-one was prosecuted, and when some were caught doing it again in 2015 and prosecuted, they were fined a derisory $3,000. This sort of enforcement and penalty structure clearly isn't a deterrent to this pervasive criminality. The law permits penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. It is long past time it was enforced.