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Tough new penalties for fisheries offending

Tough new penalties for fisheries offending

New offences and tough new penalties are being introduced for regulation 27 of the Amateur Fishing Regulations, relating to customary fishing rules, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

Regulation 27 sets out the requirements that allow fish to be taken for non-commercial customary purposes – principally hui and tangi.

Mr Benson-Pope says the new offences and penalties are part of changes that result from a review of regulation 27. He says that while the review concluded accusations of abuse of the regulation had been based on old and largely inaccurate information, nonetheless change was appropriate.

"The Fisheries Act already provides us with the powers we need to prosecute those who would use regulation 27 as a front for serious offending like poaching," said David Benson-Pope.

"However, the review identified a number of gaps in the regulations that we want to see closed. We are not looking for small errors in paperwork, we are wanting to be sure we have the tools necessary to prevent people from using regulation 27 in a way that was never intended.”

Mr Benson-Pope says specific offences will be created for: Authorisations being issued by a person not representing a recognised entity; Authorisations being issued outside an authorising agent's authority; Retrospective authorisations; and Consistent and material errors on authorisations.

Mr Benson-Pope says another change will require authorising agents to retain copies of all paperwork. While most currently do, this has not been a requirement.

"New penalties will be introduced for these offences with a maximum fine available of $10,000,” Mr Benson-Pope said. “The Ministry of Fisheries has consulted with stakeholders about these changes. Most agree that these penalties reinforce the importance of regulation 27. Any offending ultimately undermines the good work of iwi who voluntarily spend a lot of time managing their customary catch to ensure local fisheries are healthy.”

Mr Benson-Pope said regulation 27 was always intended as an interim measure as customary fishing provisions in the Fisheries Deed of Settlement – the South Island and Kaimoana customary fishing regulations - were taken up by iwi. He hoped the changes announced today would hasten iwi to embrace the customary provisions in the Deed of Settlement.

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