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Parent selling fish at school gala to be warned

PRESS RELEASE

4 November 2005
From the Ministry of Fisheries

Parent selling fish illegally at school gala day to be issued a formal written warning by the Ministry of Fisheries

Ministry of Fisheries’ Northland District Compliance Manger Dave Turner said that the parent who was selling mullet at the Waiharara School fair on the 15th October 2005 is to be issued a formal written warning for offences committed against the Fisheries Act.

Mr Turner said that this case had now been fully investigated and as is standard practice a full review of the available evidence was considered along with ‘public interest issues’ as outlined in the Crown Law Guidelines.

“Whilst the parent has clearly committed an offence that is deemed as very serious by the Ministry of Fisheries, the intent of his actions and any personal gain issues have to be considered carefully,” says Mr Turner.

In this case the Ministry of Fisheries accepts that the parent did not obtain any personal benefit and the offence was committed through ignorance of the law. Therefore he will be given a formal written warning.

“The Ministry of Fisheries will take no action against the school other than to provide educational advice. Whilst technically an offence against the Fisheries Act had been committed it is very clear that they were totally unaware of their obligations under the Act and believed that they were acting lawfully,” said Mr Turner. “Any suggestion that we would prosecute a school conducting a fund raising event is nonsense. We have a very robust review process in place and this process must be followed to ensure consistency, fairness and sufficiency of evidence before any decision as to what action we will take,” he explained.

That the matter was investigated and dealt with in the manner it was, was simply caused by the inappropriate actions of the parent concerned when he had obtained a Customary permit for the fish. The Kaitiaki who had issued the customary permit had told the parent that the fish could not be sold, but the parent ignored this advice.

Mr Turner stated that the Fishery Officers concerned had acted appropriately and professionally in dealing with this case.

“The selling of fish outside the quota management system strikes at the very heart of protecting our valuable fish stocks. The Ministry of Fisheries will investigate all incidents that come to its attention for selling fish illegally. To fail to do so risks the future of our fisheries resources,” explained Mr Turner.

Mr Turner said that it was timely to remind the public again that fish obtained by way of a Customary permit may only be used for specified customary purposes, the fish may not be sold, traded or bartered in any way.

The selling or raffling of any fish or charging for a meal for any fish product that has not been purchased through a licensed fish receiver, a legitimate wharf sale or from a permitted fish farmer is illegal. This law is designed to preserve the fish stocks that belong to all New Zealanders and is strictly enforced. Illegal raffles, back door or car boot sales of fish can threaten fish stocks in this country.

Mr Turner advised that there are legal means of raffling and selling fish for fund raising events and invited anyone wishing to carry this out to first contact their local Ministry of Fisheries office for guidance. A letter outlining the legal requirements is being sent to all school principals.


ENDS

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