Thames was at one time the second-largest city in New Zealand, behind Dunedin and ahead of Auckland
Fishery officers stop suspected illegal snapper sales
Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 06:10 (GMT + 9)
Fisheries officers have stopped a group of commercial fishers in the Thames region who were allegedly under-reporting catches and unlawfully supplying snapper to an Auckland fish supply business.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been investigating allegations into the unlawful trade of commercially caught fish from the lower firth of Thames into the Auckland area.
Photo: Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
In December, 45 fishery officers and the New Zealand Police executed searches at five locations, including three residential properties across the Auckland and Waikato regions. Electronic devices including phones and computers were also seized and are undergoing analysis.
During the searches, over NZD 25 000 (USD 16 600) in cash was seized along with six commercial fishing vessels and a refrigerated truck. Approximately 800kg of undocumented grey mullet and kahawai were located, along with 230kg of undocumented snapper.
Eight people have been interviewed and could face prosecution, however, enquiries are ongoing.
MPI's team manager of fisheries compliance in the western North Island, Andre Espinoza says it is estimated the group may have supplied in excess of 20 tonnes of unreported fish to legitimate businesses over the past 12 months.
"There are measures in place to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries including accurate and truthful catch reporting. Those who don't respect the rules will be appropriately dealt with under the law."
He says fishery officers have increased patrols over the summer season and closely monitor the area, and anyone caught breaking the law can expect to be held to account.