Fisherman didn’t report catching 2.5 tonnes of snapper

A commercial fisherman who didn’t report catching 2.5 tonnes of snapper, kahawai and gurnard has been fined $26,500.

Hamish Robert Apatu, 54, was sentenced on Monday in the Kaitāia District Court on three charges under the Fisheries Act.

The charges were based around his commercial fishing reports and the financial benefit gained by not filling them out accurately.

Fishing New Zealand found there were “discrepancies” in the numbers and weights of fish Apatu’s company, Apatu Enterprises Ltd, recorded between December 2020 and March 2022 at his company’s fish receiver in Cable Bay, Northland.

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“Around 249 bins of Snapper, 62 bins of Kahawai, and five bins of Gurnard were omitted from the official records,” Fisheries New Zealand regional manager of compliance, Phil Tasker said.

In total, it was about 2.5 tonnes of fish – about the same weight as three horses.

“The only motivation for this would be to maximise profits.”

Apatu’s fishing boat, ‘Valiant’, was forfeited and he was ordered to pay $12,000 to have it released.

The court also ordered him to pay $21,255 for the unreported fish, along with a court-imposed fine of $26,500.

The majority of the unreported fish were snapper along with kahawai and gurnard. (File photo)


The majority of the unreported fish were snapper along with kahawai and gurnard. (File photo)

“When we find evidence of fishing rules being deliberately broken for financial gain, we will investigate and if appropriate place the matter before the court,” Tasker said.

“The rules are there for a reason – to ensure sustainability of fishing resources into the future.”

Tasker said Apatu’s boat would target snapper in the Doubtless Bay area and generally did single-day fishing trips.

“Two-and-a-half tonnes of snapper is a lot of fish. The resource is there for everyone and Mr Apatu was taking far more than his share.”

Tasker said Fisheries New Zealand encouraged fishing industry operators and non-commercial fishers to report any suspected illegal activity the Ministry for Primary Industries’ 0800 4 POACHER line (0800 47 62 24).

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