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Ministry Of Fisheries Names Companies

12 February 2004

The Ministry of Fisheries has named the five companies involved in the termination of the Tauranga based Ministry of Fisheries Operation Purse yesterday.

Two Tauranga-based vessels, Matariki II and Tawera II, seized as part of this operation were fishing permits from the five companies Matariki Ltd, Nelson Fisheries Ltd, Pelco NZ Ltd, Sealord Group Ltd and Tawera Fishing Co Ltd.

To take fish commercially, a person or company must do so under the authority of a fishing permit issued by the Ministry of Fisheries.

If a fishing vessel is used the vessel must also be registered with the Ministry.

A registered fishing vessel may fish more than one fishing permit, which is the case in Operation Purse.

It is the responsibility of the permit holder to ensure the accurate completion of fishing returns which are required to completed for any fishing voyage. This return is used to measure the type of fishing, the amount of effort used to catch the fish and the weight and species of fish caught on each voyage by each permit holder.

The permit holder is also responsible for completing a return to the Ministry of Fisheries at the end of each month recording all the fish caught by or on behalf of their permit so the fish can be counted against the catch entitlements of that permit holder. The total amount of fish recorded on the monthly return should equal the combined total amount of fish caught by the permit holder for all the fishing trips during the month.

The investigation alleges the five companies involved have breached fisheries law by failing to accurately record approximately 170 tonne of fish caught by the vessels against their catch entitlements.

In addition it is alleged three of the companies, Pelco NZ Ltd, Sealord Group Ltd and Tawera Fishing Co Ltd, either caught approximately 950 tonne of fish over a three month period using an unregistered fishing vessel, or purchased fish from a vessel that was not currently registered.

The two vessels at the centre of the enquiry have been seized and searched with computers and other documents removed for further analysis. Today, after the completion of this process, the vessels were released under a Ministry of Fisheries bond.

The principals of each company have been given the opportunity to provide an explanation for the alleged discrepancies. These explanations, along with computers and several hundred documents removed from various premises around the country, are to be analysed, so decisions can be made regarding possible charges in relation to the alleged discrepancies.

The Tauranga District Compliance Manager Brendon Mikkelsen said all five companies have been cooperative throughout the investigation and continue to assist with on going inquiries.


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