Friday, December 07, 2018

Same old same old

A couple of years ago, in response to a report showing pervasive criminality within the fishing industry, the Ministry of Primary Industries finally started talking about doing something about it, via remotely-monitored cameras on fishing boats. After much foot-dragging that system is now in the trial phase. But despite detecting over 130 crimes, not a single fisher has been prosecuted:

Official figures show the trial of cameras on commercial boats has identified more than 130 compliance issues - but so far, no one has been prosecuted.


From what has been viewed, the offences have been stacking up.

Of the 133 cases of suspected non-compliance, six cases of fish coded as recreational catch when they were caught with commercial nets has been found.

Also not recorded were 44 cases of non-quota species being discarded, 14 cases of seafloor material being dredged up, four cases of seabird catches and 15 catches of undersized fish.

Although five compliance investigations were launched and two are still underway, no fishing company or individual has been prosecuted.

And these are serious crimes. Making a false catch statement is punishable by up to five years in jail; the rest is worth a $250,000 fine for each offence. But its the same problem we've seen again and again and again. MPI doesn't seem to have a problem detecting these offences. What it has is a total unwillingness to prosecute them. The agency has been completely captured by the criminals it is supposed to regulate. As for what should be done about it, MPI is completely unsalvageable. It should be split up and replaced with new, enforcement-focused agencies to actually enforce the law. And when establishing those agencies, the primary rule should be not to hire anyone who has ever worked for MPI. Their internal culture is corrupt and compromised, and no-one who works in them is fit in any way to serve in the public service.