The Heron Report into why the Ministry for Primary Industries did not prosecute fish dumping paints a picture of an incompetence.
The Report, which follows revelations that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has filmed fishing boats engaging in illegal activity over a period of several years, says the decision not to prosecute was “flawed” and the result of poor internal communications and a desire to avoid “embarrassment”
LegaSea spokesman Scott Macindoe says New Zealand deserves better.
“I feel for the Minister who is charged with overseeing New Zealand’s fisheries yet has to take his advice from an organisation that is too close to the industry it allegedly manages. A Ministry that sweeps illegal activity under the carpet.”
Macindoe says the role of the Ministry is supposed to be around protecting our fisheries for all New Zealand, yet time and again MPI finds excuses to defend bad behaviour.
“Learning that officials decided not to prosecute because they were afraid of looking stupid is another blow to the confidence we have in the Ministry and its operations. The Minister deserves better and the people of New Zealand deserve better.”
LegaSea calls for a change – nothing less than a Commission of Inquiry into the capture of this Ministry by industry will suffice.
“We believe a better structure has to be introduced than the Quota Management System which has been touted as world class but is built on the assumption that MPI was a competent steward for our fisheries. Instead, we are plagued with an industry rife with charges of slavery, dumping, misreporting and political interference, and a Ministry that simply refuses to acknowledge the degree to which it has been captured.”
LegaSea calls on the Minister to address the situation with a view to taking management of our fisheries off MPI entirely.
“Clearly MPI is the wrong agency to manage inshore fisheries. Its target of doubling primary produce exports is incompatible with managing a wild, publicly-owned resource like fish in the public interest. If MPI was serious about doubling the value of our fish exports it would look to the recreational market where each fish is worth ten to twenty times the value of the same fish caught by an industrial trawler. Instead, MPI continues to defend the indefensible.”