Hawke's Bay seafood company fined $62K

By Te Ao - Māori News

A ban from fishing for three years and a fine of $62,000 is the result of a former Hawke's Bay seafood company's failure to report more than 200 kilograms of crayfish.

The company formerly owned by the D'Esposito family, Esplanade No.3 was sentenced this week following a reserved judgment released in the Wellington District Court.

This followed a lengthy investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Guilty pleas had been entered earlier to four charges. The offending was detected after MPI began looking into the activities of the company in 2014.

MPI confirmed that an undercover officer confirmed that the skipper and crew of the Nimrod 1 were fishing illegally.

MPI Manager of Compliance Investigations Gary Orr says it was discovered that crayfish were not reported on 36 fishing trips over a period of ten months.

"That added up to a total of 204 kilograms of unreported crayfish," says Orr.

"This sort of illegal fishing activity is extremely disappointing. Accurate reporting of commercial catches is critical to maintaining the integrity of New Zealand's Quota Management System. The data obtained is crucial to MPI's assessment of the health of a fishery.

Orr says, "This is a fishery that was scientifically assessed in 2016, finding that stock levels were 25% lower than desired with a projected further decline of 6% over the following four years.  The unrecorded removal of fish had the potential to significantly impact the work being done by MPI and legitimate users of the resource to restore stock levels."

Earlier this year, Hawkes Bay Seafoods and its personnel were fined more than $1 million for under-reporting 27 tonnes of Bluenose.

In 1991, Nino and Joe D'Esposito and the companies they were directors of, Harbour Inn Seafood Export Limited and Harbour City Seafoods Limited, were collectively fined close to $1m for misreporting fish landings that included 574 tonnes of orange roughy.