Legal advisers for the recreational fishing lobby group have been put on notice as the fallout continues over illegal fish dumping by commercial operations.

LegaSea, a public outreach initiative of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, has told the Herald on Sunday its internal legal experts await "full disclosure" of information relating to the saga. It has an eye already on potential legal action against the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and commercial fishing companies.

Established in 2012, LegaSea is anchored by five key principles, including stopping "senseless waste" and that "public own the fishery". Spokesman Richard Baker said the group was disappointed with the Government's reaction to a global study suggesting our total fisheries catch since 1950 is 2.7 times higher than officially reported.

That report, led by the University of Auckland's Dr Glenn Simmons, said between 1950-2013, 24.7 million tonnes of fish went unreported, compared with the 15.3 million officially reported to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.


MPI has announced an independent review will be launched into previous operations investigating the illegal dumping of fish - after leaked reports raised fresh questions around the potential scale of the problem - and how MPI has dealt with the situation.

Baker said although LegaSea has not "formally engaged" lawyers, civil action is being considered, including against MPI. "Certainly, civil legal action could be considered if it was believed there was sufficient evidence of a continuing cover-up," Baker said.

Dave Turner, director of fisheries management for MPI, said last week MPI was interested in any information about historical catches but was keen to see the raw data from the report.