11 Nov 2010

Fishing companies may be fined up to $5m, says ministry

4:07 pm on 11 November 2010

A Timaru-based fishing operation could face a fine of up to $5 million for breaking quota rules and misreporting its catch, says the Ministry of Fisheries.

Ministry deputy chief executive of field operations, Andrew Coleman, told Parliament's primary production select committee on Thursday that it would be the biggest fine in the sector's history.

Mr Coleman says the fishing operation is run through a charter agreement between Nelson-based company Aurora Fisheries and Japanese company Kanai Fishing.

The companies pleaded guilty to breaking quota rules and misreporting a $2.4 million catch in Wellington District Court in July.

Mr Coleman says fines for fisheries breaches have been increased and the ministry hopes the case will act as a deterrent to other fishing companies.

Master fined

Meanwhile, the master of a Japanese fishing vessel has been fined $13,000 in Christchurch District Court for breaches of fisheries regulations.

Kiyoshi Okaya was convicted of four charges of trawling inside the 40-kilometre exclusion zone off the west coast of the South Island last year.

The vessel has been seized by the Crown. Its owners have 30 days to apply for its return.