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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

A Nelson based fishing company was fined $27,600 today for commercial fishing in a marine reserve, contrary to the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

Amaltal Fishing Co, owned by Talley’s Group, received its sentence in the Nelson District Court today after previously being convicted for fishing in Hikurangi Marine Reserve, with its vessel the Amaltal Mariner. The vessel’s skipper was sentenced and fined last year.

The reserve, off the coast of Kaikōura, encompasses the Kaikōura Canyon, a biologically rich marine ecosystem which is totally protected from fishing, says Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) fisheries compliance manager Steve Ham.

“We expect fishing companies and skippers to know the rules before they go out and we expect them to comply with them.

“Every commercial fishing vessel in New Zealand is required to carry digital monitoring gear which allows us to track their movements in real time. Because of this we were able to quickly uncover the offending and take action.”

On Sunday, 17 March 2019, at approximately 11.42am, the Amaltal Mariner began a trawl 900m inside the Hikurangi Marine Reserve. The net was towed into the Hikurangi Marine Reserve where it travelled along the seafloor for 10 to 12 minutes, covering a distance of between 1,100m and 1,400m.  The trawl net was retrieved at 12.04pm.

The skipper had charts onboard that show the Hikurangi Marine Reserve but it was not marked on the vessel’s plotter.

“The rules are there for a good reason. We expect fishing companies and skippers to understand their obligations before they go out,” says Mr Ham.

 Mr Ham encourages fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers to report any suspected illegal activity through the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).

Background information

Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation under the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

The purpose of marine reserves is to preserve, for the scientific study of marine life, areas of New Zealand that contain underwater scenery, natural features, or marine life, of such distinctive quality, or so typical, or beautiful, or unique, that their continued preservation is in the national interest.

There are currently 44 marine reserves in New Zealand. The status of marine reserve is the strongest legal protection available to the marine environment and all forms of fishing are prohibited.

The Kaikōura (Te Tai ō Marokura) Marine Management Act 2014 established the Hikurangi Marine reserve, which covers an area of approximately 10,416 ha, extending 23.4 km offshore and includes 1.95 km of shoreline near Goose Bay, south of the Kaikōura township.