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Longline tuna fisher fined $15,000

The fisher was sentenced in Tauranga District Court on Wednesday. File photo/SunLive.

A Whitianga longline tuna fisher has had his vessel forfeited to the Crown and been fined $15,000 in Tauranga District Court.

The Ministry of Primary Industries says the fisher failed to use the correct fishing gear while fishing in Tauranga last year.

The gear, known as tori lines, is required to protect against the capture of seabirds.

At an earlier appearance, 43-year-old Wayne David Macfarlane pleaded guilty to two fishery charges – one for not using tori lines and the other for falsely declaring that he did use them when longlining for tuna on five occasions between June 3 and 10, 2020.

Acting Regional Manager for MPI Fisheries Compliance, Jodie Cole says technical rules such as deploying tori lines are there for a reason.

“Longline fishers have a responsibility to use the correct gear to prevent accidentally catching seabirds. Bird lasers, which Mr Macfarlane used, are not approved. What’s also disappointing is that Mr Macfarlane stated in his trip report that he did use the correct gear,” says Jodie.

During sentencing on Wednesday, the court heard that Fishery Officers conducted a routine inspection of the vessel in Tauranga on June 10, 2020, after it had returned from a fishing trip in the Bay of Plenty.

Macfarlane told Fishery Officers that he used bird lasers instead of tori lines because he wanted to prove that bird lasers were more effective.

Cole says no fishers want to catch birds, and most adhere to the rules, but everyone needs to play their part to protect New Zealand’s seabirds by using the right gear at the right times.

New Zealand is a haven for seabirds, including the iconic albatross and petrel species.

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Seems harsh...

Posted on 19-02-2021 13:14 | By morepork

I understand the need to protect the birds, but he claims he WAS doing that, just not in the official way. Confiscating the boat seems harsh for that. Hope he gets it back. And there should be some official investigation of his claims for laser lines; if they are better, it shouldn’t be about "WHO’s right" , it should be about "WHAT’s right"...

He has a point

Posted on 18-02-2021 18:38 | By

I’ve done a lot of surface long lining and when these lines first came in the were a pain in the arse !!! We set them up and the next day got a record amount of birds. It was actually a crazy amount of birds and stopped using them after that trip out.