A Tauranga judge has ordered the confiscation of a $300,000 fishing trawler belonging to the owner of a Mount Maunganui fishing company convicted of filing a string of bogus catch returns.
Dalgon Kim, 56, managing director and shareholder of Poseidon Pacific Limited (Poseidon), was found guilty of 13 charges under the Fisheries Act, relating to understating returns for tens of thousands of dollars' worth of fish.
Judge Peter Rollo delivered his reserved decision in Tauranga District Court yesterday, following a defended hearing last year.
The judge found him guilty of eight charges of filing false or incomplete catch landing returns and five charges of filing false purchase invoices.
He also ordered the forfeiture of the $300,000 fishing trawler Jay Debra 2099 to the Crown, as it was the main vessel involved in Kim's offending.
By understating his catch and the amounts of fish he supplied, Kim may have avoided making payment in full to the relevant commercial fisher for his catch, but otherwise avoided the mandatory payment for the company's annual catch entitlement.
In his judgment, Judge Rollo rejected Kim's evidence as being "untruthful and unreliable".
Brendon Mikkelsen, Waikato and BOP district compliance manager at the Ministry for Primary Industries, said Kim's offending undermined the Quota Management System, which relied on accurate reporting.
"A total disregard for the Quota Management System as revealed by this investigation places fish stocks at risk of overfishing. Accurate information provided by commercial fishermen on their returns is essential for managing commercial fisheries and making sure they are sustainable," he said.
Mr Mikkelsen said it was difficult to estimate the true value of some of the fish Kim failed to declare but he earned $29,000 for the snapper, trevally, tarakihi, gurnard and john dory and avoided paying $36,000 in annual catch entitlement costs.
"It is concerning that this is the second Tauranga-based commercial fishing vessel that has been forfeited to the Crown within the last three months."
Judge Rollo remanded Kim on bail pending sentencing on April 10 and has granted the Ministry of Primary Industries powers to further investigate his financial affairs under the Sentencing Act.