Monday, June 11, 2018

Time to deal with this criminal industry

Surprise, surprise! It turns out that the fishing industry - a pervasively criminal industry which has been caught time and time again lying about how much fish it is catching - has been resisting proper oversight:

Newshub can reveal that in just the past year-and-a-half, 50 skippers have refused to have government fishing observers on their vessels.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says since 2009, it's had to take 10 skippers to court for saying no.

Most refusals were due to skippers claiming there were issues with "maritime manning limits", meaning there wasn't enough room on board.

Other cases include a skipper simply not responding to MPI's phone calls, a skipper refusing to take an observer because of the extra food costs, and another case where despite being under "placement notice" orders not to sail without an observer, the vessel left port anyway.

This is of course illegal. The observer programme is statutorily authorised to collect proper information on catches and on safety. Its a crime to put to sea without a notified observer if one is required, its a crime to refuse to provide food and accommodation, and its a crime to obstruct them in their duties. The penalty for each of those crimes is a fine of up to $250,000, and it is severe enough that the court may order quota to be forfeited as well. Which makes sense: accepting observation is effectively a condition of holding quota, and fishers who refuse or obstruct it in order to hide their illegal practices shouldn't be in the business. And if we want to end this problem, actually seeking that penalty would go a long way towards bringing this criminal industry into compliance and making it sustainable (as is required by the law).