San Nicholas and its crew were fishing for kina in Dusky Sound in 2018, and the company and company director are now facing Fisheries Act charges.
The defence lawyer for a Southland fishing company on trial for allegedly making misleading statements, says the law is not clear about where and when shellfish can be processed.
Cando Fishing, registered in Gore, and company director Campbell McManaway are defending six respective Fisheries Act charges alleging they made a misleading statement by recording the kina as green (whole) when it had been processed.
The company and director are co-defendants in a judge-alone trial before Judge Russell Walker in the Invercargill District Court, which began on Monday.
The charges relate to a commercial fishing trip on the boat San Nicholas to Dusky Sound in June and July 2018.
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The company has also pleaded not guilty to being a commercial fisher, possessing kina, failed to ensure it remain unshelled until they were delivered to the first point of sale after being taken or to a processing factory, which carries a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine.
Fisheries officer Gregory Forbes, who was called as a prosecution witness, said there were pages missing from the company’s fishing records when it got back to Bluff from Dusky Sound.
During cross-examination, the company’s defence lawyer Mike Sullivan put it to Forbes that the charges had been laid because he had “moved the line” in regard to where Cando Fishing was considered a commercial fisher and where it was considered a licensed fish receiver.
Forbes responded that the company’s records were false.
“The [licensed fish receiver] is not [a licensed fish receiver] in that location,” Forbes said.
Cando Fishing is authorised as a licensed fish receiver at Bluff and Picton, the court was told.
McManaway’s lawyer later asked Forbes if an on-board fish processing factory would have freezers and if staff would be wearing overalls and gumboots, which Forbes agreed with.
McManaway’s recorded interview with Forbes in 2018 was played in court.
The fisherman said he was stepping back from the industry because the bureaucrats had made it too hard.
The trip from Bluff to Dusky Sound was 20 hours, so the kina had to be processed at sea, he said.
McManaway said he had spent $100,000 on the boat’s processing factory and helipad.
McManaway left school at 15 years of age to fish with his father, bought a boat at 23 and had been fishing for decades, he said.
The trial was expected to continue on Tuesday.