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Japanese Vessel to Be Returned for $300,000

4 November 2005
From the Ministry of Fisheries

Japanese Fishing Vessel to Be Returned to Owners Upon Payment of $300,000

A Japanese fishing vessel seized after a Ministry of Fisheries investigation* will be returned to its current owners upon payment of $300,000 + GST.

This payment is in addition to other fines and costs, including deemed value payments, bringing the total cost for those charged after the investigation in excess of $730,000.

In January 2005 both the vessel master of the then named ‘Koyo Maru No 8’, and the New Zealand based Japanese surimi project manager were collectively fined a total of $224,000. The vessel, a 104-metre surimi factory processing fishing vessel, was forfeited to the Crown.

Following a hearing earlier this year in the Dunedin District Court Judge S J O’Driscoll has now ordered the return of the vessel to the current owners, based in Chile, upon payment to the Crown. The relief from forfeiture was the final chapter of an investigation that Ministry of Fisheries Investigators commenced over two and a half years earlier.

In assessing an appropriate sum of money on which to allow the return of the vessel to the current owners, His Honour Judge O’Driscoll recognised that relief against forfeiture should not be a mere formality with the payment of a minimal sum to the Crown. He noted that, “the actual offending which took place was serious, taking into account the quantity of fish taken, the type of offending (trucking) and subsequent under-reporting. This is not offending at the lower end of the scale and the fines imposed reflected that.”

Mike Green, Ministry of Fisheries Investigations Manager, is pleased with the final result. “The fines and other costs related to this conviction should serve as a stark reminder to any others considering this type of offending that it will not be tolerated,” he said.

* The investigation and subsequent charges brought by the Ministry of Fisheries related to two fishing trips undertaken by the vessel, then named the ‘Koyo Maru No 8’, during August and September 2002 in the Southern Blue Whiting fishery in the sub-Antarctic waters of New Zealand. The offending involved misreporting the area from which just under 700 tonnes of fish was taken. This practice, known as ‘trucking’ in the fishing industry has the potential to undermine the quota management framework and the sustainability of fisheries resources.

Both the master and the project manager were at the time of the offending employed by the Japanese fishing company, Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd (Nissui), which was at the same time the owner of the fishing vessel. The vessel was fishing in New Zealand waters under charter and pursuant to a fishing permit held by Sealord Charters Limited.


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