Korean fishermen fined heavily for dumping fish

By Ben Chapman-Smith

File photo / Paul Estcourt
File photo / Paul Estcourt

Four crew members of the Korean fishing vessel Oyang 75 have been handed a collective fine of more than $400,000 for illegally dumping fish last year.

In the Christchurch District Court today, Captain Chong Pil Yun was fined $208,500, Minsu Park $121,000, Wongeun Kang $60,000, and Jun Cheol Lee $35,000.

Judge Saunders sentenced each man according to their culpability in the offending.

The Oyang 75 was operating in New Zealand waters under a foreign charter arrangement when a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) observer reported her concerns of illegal fish dumping.

Subsequent investigations established that an estimated 405 tonnes of fish, mainly Hoki, was dumped in March 2011 and June 2011.

The dumped fish was valued between $800,000 and $1.4 million.

MPI later laid charges against the men under the Fisheries Act 1996 for misreporting and illegal dumping of fish.

Commercial fishing largely relied on the honesty of fishers and fishing companies, said Peter Hyde, the MPI's district compliance manager for Canterbury/Westland.

"In this case there was a serious breach of trust in reporting catches of quota fish species which is very disappointing to see," Hyde said.

"The dumping of damaged and small quota fish allowed the crew to maximise financial return through landing better quality, higher value fish."

An investigation included interviewing the 32 Indonesian crew who had worked on the vessel during the two trips the offending took place.

Six of the Indonesian crew remained in New Zealand to give evidence at a hearing in June this year, Hyde said.

A fifth man, the vessel's factory manager, was convicted and will be sentenced at a later date.

A commercial fisher who unlawfully dumped fish was liable for a penalty of up to $250,000.

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