Skipper sentenced for misreporting 15 tonnes of fish

File photo / Greg Bowker
File photo / Greg Bowker

A commercial fishing boat skipper has been sentenced to seven months home detention and 200 hours of community service for misreporting 15 tonnes of fish.

Tauranga-based Gary Robert Mitchell made five fishing trips in the Bay of Plenty between August 20 and September 30 last year, where he carried out what is known in the fishing industry as "trucking", the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.

Trucking is the catching of fish in one Quota Management Area (QMA) and falsely reporting it as having been caught in another QMA for financial benefit. In just over five weeks of commercial long lining, Mr Mitchell misreported over 15 tonnes of Ling.

Now, he has been found guilty at Tauranga District Court of five charges under section 231 of the Fisheries Act for knowingly making a false statement in a fishing return for the purpose of obtaining a benefit under the Act.

"MPI is happy with the court's decision as it sends the message that offending of this nature will not be tolerated," MPI district compliance manager for Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Brendon Mikkelsen said.

"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 fisherman on their returns is essential for managing commercial fisheries and making sure they are sustainable.

"Fishery Officers and Investigators will continue to focus on accurate and timely fishery reporting to ensure the integrity of the New Zealand Quota Management System and the ongoing sustainability of the Bay of Plenty fishery."

- APNZ

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