Unreported Basking Shark Discard Leads to Investigation
Alleged fish dumpers under investigationBy Michael Morrah, 3 News, 17. May 2012
A 3 News investigation into fish dumping has led to charges being brought against the captain and factory manager of a foreign-owned trawler.
Both have been charged with fish dumping and misreporting of a catch – and it’s not just wasteful practices at sea that are being scrutinised.
The pictures shot on board are distressing, but have helped authorities lay charges over the activities onboard the Oyang 77.
A protected basking shark had its tail ripped off as crew tried to get it off the deck. Eventually they succeed in dragging it overboard.
By law, landing a shark like this must be reported. 3 News understands it wasn’t.
“It’s a significant breach of a fisherman’s obligations and it undermines the integrity of the quota management system,” says Scott Gallacher, deputy director-general of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The other issue centres on alleged fish dumping, the practice of discarding species vessels don’t have quota for instead of declaring them and facing penalties.
The pictures show several large ling, a valuable quota species, being thrown out with scraps.
“Discarding is illegal,” says Mr Gallacher. “There’s clearly some exceptions when the safety of the vessel is involved. In relation to the Oyang 77, as far as we are concerned no exceptions were in play.”
And 3 News has learned it’s not just wasting fish in New Zealand waters that’s at issue. A signed affidavit from a crew member from the Oyang 77 shows he’s making a claim for unpaid wages.
He also alleges he was hit and sexually harassed while on board. Also, he says in June last year the captain of the vessel cut his finger for no reason, and then offered to stitch it up.
The Department of Labour has confirmed to 3 News that it’s investigating the Oyang 77. It’s also investigating another vessel, the Oyang 75, as is the Korean Human Rights Commission.
An agent for the Christchurch company that charters the Oyang vessels didn’t return our phone calls