A Southland fishing company and its director have been sentenced for making false statements on fishing returns.
Karaka Fisheries Ltd and its director Martin William Nepia were both charged with six jointly laid charges of making a false statement in a fishing return during the 2010/2011 commercial season.
Karaka Fisheries was also sentenced on 10 additional charges of filing late returns - a breach of fishing regulations.
The company, which obtained five copies of their commercial fishing permit in November 2010, used three North Island-based fishing boats to catch fish from November 2010 to February 2011 using copies of their fishing permit.
Returns filed during this time stated that no fish had been caught, but Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) calculations estimated about 64 tonnes had been caught, carrying a "deemed value'' of more than $820,000.
In Invercargill District Court today Nepia was fined $18,000 plus court costs and sentenced to five months' community detention and 250 hours of community work.
Karaka Fisheries Limited was ordered to pay $17,000 plus court costs for the offences.
Reece Murphy, MPI district compliance manager for Southland, said this type of behaviour undermined the Quota Management System.
"This total disregard for the Quota Management System places our fishing industry at risk. The information provided by commercial fishermen on their fishing returns is important for managing commercial fisheries and making sure they are sustainable,'' he said.
"We are pleased with today's result and it is good to see the courts sending out a message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.
"The Ministry will continue to utilise all compliance resources available to detect and prosecute those commercial operators who defraud the Quota Management System.''