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Illegal snapper snapped up

Officers of Fisheries New Zealand have swooped on a group of commercial fishers in the Thames region allegedly under-reporting catches and supplying snapper to Auckland’s fish market.

Team Manager of Fisheries Compliance at The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Andrew Espinoza said 230kg of undocumented snapper had been seized in the recent raids.

“During the searches, over $25,000 in cash was seized along with six commercial fishing vessels and a refrigerated truck,” Mr Espinoza said.

“Approximately 800kg of undocumented grey mullet and kahawai were also located.”

He said officers executed searches at five locations, including three residential properties across the Auckland and Waikato regions.

Eight people have been interviewed and could face prosecution however, enquiries are ongoing.”

Mr Espinoza said it was estimated the group may have supplied in excess of 20 tonnes of unreported fish to legitimate businesses over the last 12 months.

He said Fisheries officers had increased patrols over the summer season and would continue to closely monitor the area.

“There are measures in place to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries including accurate and truthful catch reporting,” Mr Espinoza said.

“Those who don’t respect the rules will be appropriately dealt with under the law.”

He said suspicious fishing activity could be reported on the MPI hotline: 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24).