MPI warns on illegal seafood sales

Kina in its habitat. File picture

THE East Coast has the second-highest level of illegal seafood sales via Facebook in the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issued a warning that offenders can be fined up to $250,000.

In the past year 28 complaints were made to MPI about people selling recreationally caught seafood on Facebook in the area MPI classes Poverty Bay, covering from above Mahia around the coast to Whakatane, including crayfish, kina and paua.

Only Auckland had more, with 48 complaints.

Thirteen complaints were made in Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa.

The East Coast area had more than double the level of the entire South Island, which had 13 complaints.

MPI said there had been a significant increase in the offending, a crime under the Fisheries Act, across the country in the past year.

Two complaints were made in the East Coast in 2015 and 12 in 2016.

Across the country, since the start of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood.

That is up on last year’s 96 complaints and 57 in 2015.

MPI fisheries compliance manager Greg Keys said it was likely most people who were posting about seafood for sale knew their actions were illegal.

“This is simply another vehicle people use to illegally sell recreational catch,” Mr Keys said.

“That figure doesn’t include multiple complaints about the same post so, in reality, the number of complaints is significantly higher than that.

“Both buying and selling recreationally caught seafood, as well as swapping it, is against the law. These are offences against the Fisheries Act and can result in fines of up to $250,000.”

MPI expected to see an increase in illegal activity of this nature as summer approaches.

“MPI follows up on every incident that is reported,” Mr Keys said.

“The rules are in place to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries, as well as to ensure seafood meets food safety standards.”

MPI was recently alerted to the illegal sale of kina on Facebook where the kina in question was from an area under a shellfish biotoxin alert.

“It is always disappointing to see people flouting the rules. What is great, however, is an increase in the number of people who approach us via our various channels to report suspicious or illegal behaviour.

“Ensuring and promoting sustainable fisheries is a collective responsibility.”

THE East Coast has the second-highest level of illegal seafood sales via Facebook in the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issued a warning that offenders can be fined up to $250,000.

In the past year 28 complaints were made to MPI about people selling recreationally caught seafood on Facebook in the area MPI classes Poverty Bay, covering from above Mahia around the coast to Whakatane, including crayfish, kina and paua.

Only Auckland had more, with 48 complaints.

Thirteen complaints were made in Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa.

The East Coast area had more than double the level of the entire South Island, which had 13 complaints.

MPI said there had been a significant increase in the offending, a crime under the Fisheries Act, across the country in the past year.

Two complaints were made in the East Coast in 2015 and 12 in 2016.

Across the country, since the start of the year, MPI has received more than 160 calls and emails reporting Facebook posts by people selling recreationally caught seafood.

That is up on last year’s 96 complaints and 57 in 2015.

MPI fisheries compliance manager Greg Keys said it was likely most people who were posting about seafood for sale knew their actions were illegal.

“This is simply another vehicle people use to illegally sell recreational catch,” Mr Keys said.

“That figure doesn’t include multiple complaints about the same post so, in reality, the number of complaints is significantly higher than that.

“Both buying and selling recreationally caught seafood, as well as swapping it, is against the law. These are offences against the Fisheries Act and can result in fines of up to $250,000.”

MPI expected to see an increase in illegal activity of this nature as summer approaches.

“MPI follows up on every incident that is reported,” Mr Keys said.

“The rules are in place to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries, as well as to ensure seafood meets food safety standards.”

MPI was recently alerted to the illegal sale of kina on Facebook where the kina in question was from an area under a shellfish biotoxin alert.

“It is always disappointing to see people flouting the rules. What is great, however, is an increase in the number of people who approach us via our various channels to report suspicious or illegal behaviour.

“Ensuring and promoting sustainable fisheries is a collective responsibility.”

MPI encourages people to report poaching or illegal activity by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476224) or emailing poacher@mpi.govt.nz or using MPI’s main Facebook page.

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