23 Jul 2008

Crown outlines case against Polish fishermen

4:31 pm on 23 July 2008

A trial of three Polish fishermen accused of over-fishing in the East Coast hoki grounds last year and dumping substandard fish has begun in Christchurch District Court.

The prosecution opened its case on behalf of the Ministry of Fisheries, saying the men intentionally over-fished to keep their boat at full production.

In his opening address, prosecution lawyer Tim McKenzie said it was important to keep a boat like theirs at full capacity.

He said the fishermen ensured this by catching more fish than the trawler Atria could process and throwing substandard and deteriorating fish into the ocean.

Several crew members are due to give evidence that they saw this take place on a regular basis. The prosecution plans to call 34 witnesses.

The court will also see a video taken by a crew member on a mobile phone that shows fish being discarded.

The trial is expected to take six weeks.