A Southland fishing company and its skipper have been fined a total of $52,000, along with a three-year ban from pāua fishing, for various regulations transgressions.
Cando Fishing Limited and Campbell David McManaway (59) were sentenced in the Invercargill District Court in late November on multiple charges under the Fisheries Act. They had previously pleaded guilty following a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
The ban on pāua fishing for three years means Cando Fishing is prohibited from holding a fishing permit to catch pāua, engaging in fishing or any activity associated with taking pāua, and deriving any beneficial income from activities related to the taking of pāua.
"We believe this aspect of the sentence sends a strong message to all commercial fishers. To effectively manage sustainability, all fishing activity must be captured correctly in the Quota Management System (QMS). If the system doesn't account for that activity, it creates a real threat to the resource through overfishing or incorrect reporting," says MPI regional manager fisheries compliance, Garreth Jay.
As a result of the fisheries convictions the fishing vessel, San Nicholas, was forfeited to the Crown along with 32 set nets.
Mr McManaway is the company's sole director and skippered the fishing vessel during a fishing trip in early February 2020. Thirty-two nets measuring 45m each were set in and around Otago Retreat and Steep-to Island in Preservation Inlet in Southern Fiordland.
The length of commercial set nets is limited to 1,000m, but Mr McManaway used 1,440m. Mr McManaway said he was unaware of the set net restriction and falsely reported his nets as being only 60m long. During a later interview with MPI, Mr McManaway said he likely set more than 2,500m at any one time during the past decade because he did not know this rule.
"Cando Fishing Limited has held a fishing permit since 2005. We expect this rule to be known to all commercial fishers operating in this area. The rules are there to protect the resource and keep it sustainable. We understand that Mr McManaway was not the regular skipper of the San Nicholas, but not being aware of this has consequences, as we've heard today," says Mr Jay.
Other fishery offences include inaccurate catch reports, such as reporting butterfish and moki but not species such as blue cod, crayfish, tarakihi, trumpeter, sevengill shark, banded wrasse, and antarctic rock cod. Some of the fish were sold for over $5,200.00.
Cando and Mr McManaway also removed 300kgs of dead pāua from holding pots, disposing of them without reporting it in the required Monthly Harvest Return.
Furthermore, in March 2020, fishery officers observed the San Nicholas lifting holding pots and taking possession of 223 dead pāua. After fishery officers explained to Mr McManaway his obligation to report this loss, the company eventually submitted the loss as 120kgs several months after the event.
"It's really disappointing to hear Cando and Mr McManaway were unaware of these important requirements. Again, we'd expect someone with Mr McManaway's fishing experience to know this and comply. When we find evidence of these rules being broken, you can be assured that we will take appropriate action."
Garreth Jay encourages fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers to report any suspected illegal activity through the Ministry's 0800 4 POACHER line (0800 47 62 24).