Timeline of MPI Fishing lies – LegaSea



When the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) failed to prosecute industrial fishing boat captains for dumping catch it blamed legal advice for the decision.

Now we are told that legal advice never existed. Instead, MPI used misleading information and misdirected both the Minister and the public as to why blatant dumping of fish recorded on camera went unprosecuted. The only reason this has now come to light is because the Chief Ombudsman’s Office has forced MPI to reveal the information after repeated attempts to get the truth of the matter by media, LegaSea and the public.


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May 2016
University of Auckland’s catch reconstruction report released. New Zealand’s fishery catch of the last 50 years estimated at 2.7 times more than reported. Report attacked by industry as being misleading.
LegaSea respond to the report calling for an urgent review of the QMS and of MPI’s role in overseeing the fishing industry. EDS call for a wider review of NZ’s fisheries management system.

Government appoints Michael Heron QC to review decision not to prosecute those filmed dumping fish. LegaSea says the Heron review is not enough, only a full review of the QMS will be enough to allay public concerns about Ministry capture by the fishing industry.

The catch reconstruction report also refers to MPI’s own investigators’ concerns about the level of fish dumping for the first time.

MPI awards contract to place cameras on boats to monitor for illegal fish dumping and under reported catch of protected species to Trident, a company wholly-owned by the fishing industry.
LegaSea questions who is running New Zealand’s fisheries and urges the Minister to establish an independent inquiry with broad terms of reference.

September 2016
Heron report reveals MPI decision not to prosecute was “flawed”, recommends changes to the way MPI reacts in future. The report also shows MPI were fearful of the reaction by the public and the commercial fishers themselves if they did prosecute.

The report also reveals senior MPI managers believe dumping of fish is so widespread half the inshore trawl fleet would go out of business if the law was enforced.

November 2016
MPI forced to admit that up to 80 percent of the cameras installed on snapper trawlers to police fish dumping failed during their first three months of use. Footage from some vessels has been missing for up to a month.

December 2016
MPI forced to reveal that only four cases of fish dumping have been brought before the courts since 2009.

April 2017
University of Auckland researchers reveal MPI refuses to release information relating to 14 more operations that detail the Ministry’s investigations into reporting and fish dumping.
MPI’s relationship with industry questioned further after it is revealed MPI has outsourced administration and data management for large parts of its daily activity to a company wholly-owned by the fishing industry.

The Ombudsman’s Office has forced MPI to reveal that the legal advice it relied on to avoid prosecuting those industrial fishers filmed dumping fish doesn’t exist and never had.


  1. Plundering our children’s future this despicable Government is engaged in now.

    This is a shameful exposure of an industry and Government with no moral compass any more.

    MPI should be now investigated as to why it cannot police the industry and heads must roll.

  2. This is a disgrace. Is it too late to prosecute now. Liars that is what they are great cover-up liars like our NZ defence force. Just reading Nicky’s book, now if he had anything wrong they would have sued him. The detail in the book is stunning. We musnt’ let this die, we must make them have a proper independent inquiry, talk to the people that Nicky talked to.

  3. The MPI is a front for corruption and theivery.
    Vote these crooks out and disband the MPI and put in place something that actually does something useful for the country.

  4. And can you just imagine what the swine down at MPI are doing to our agriculture generally? What does nathan guy think? Lets ask?

  5. Everyone should read Michael Field’s book The Catch. It is a stunning expose of the constant overfishing that goes on the lies and the conditions of those who work on the boats.

  6. Time and time again, this national govt has shown itself to be incompetent and or unwilling to stop the plundering of our fish stocks. If they can’t do the job, they should get the fuck out of the way and let another government sort out this mess! This is unacceptable!

  7. The QMS was never a real fisheries management system – it’s an economist’s contruct, not a biologist’s. But this fraud shows that NZ’s small fishermen were wiped out for nothing – the guys who ‘own’ the quota now can’t even follow the byzantine rules. Selective enforcement never gets the big guys, and far from protecting the resource or the workers, the large, often foreign-controlled companies now control everything. Our government pissed it all away.

  8. Nathan Guy must be getting pretty rich by now with all the backhanders paid to him from the fishing industry.

  9. Seen from the other side: “I’m Only a Fisherman”

    I’m only a fisherman,
    That’s what I do;
    Was one of the many,
    Now one of the few.

    It’s 5 in the morning
    And time for our brekkie;
    We’re ahead of the sunrise,
    Me and my deckie.

    The mollymawks skimming
    Graceful behind us;
    They know when we’re catching,
    They know how to find us.

    The dolphins are playful,
    They dance at our side,
    We smile to each other,
    Along for the ride.

    On Foveaux Strait
    The sea can be flat;
    We get good fishing
    On days like that.

    I’m only a fisherman,
    That’s what I do;
    It’s me and the weather,
    The sea and my crew.

    The sea and the weather
    That’s what rules us;
    If forecasts are wrong
    That’s what fools us.

    The lady-o radio
    Back there at Bluff,
    Our lifeline, our wifeline,
    Can’t thank her enough.

    When we’re stuck on the shore
    For days on end,
    With no fish to sell
    There’s no money to spend.

    Fuel’s gone up,
    It’s a dollar a drop;
    They get ten times the price
    For my fish in the shop.

    I’m only a fisherman,
    That’s what I am;
    I need my bread,
    I’d quite like some jam.

    And now the Green Ladins, that’s what we call them,
    They want to slash our quotas.
    They’re out to deceive; to make others believe
    They falsify their photos.

    And all the while, they sit at home
    On their comfy chairs and beanbags,
    Eating sesame dips and fish and chips,
    And passing round their green-fags.

    They do good work for pandas and whales,
    I’m as fond of dolphins as they are;
    But in their game to sully our name
    They’re not an honourable player.

    I’m only a fisherman,
    That’s what I do;
    It’s me and the weather,
    The sea and my crew.

    I’m only a fisherman,
    That’s what I do;
    Was one of the many,
    Now one of the few.

  10. To all you responders so anxious to stick it to fishermen:

    Please know that if a self-employed fisherman (with a bank debt on his boat, and a mortgage at home) declared every “wrong species” of fish that swam into his net, he would be stung with a punitive “deemed quota” penalty that would, in short time, bankrupt him. If he is to survive, dumping is the only option.

    If/when MPI devise a mechanism to allow only the right species to get caught, and the wrong ones to swim free, then they might be entitled to criticise. Or, more realistically, allow fisherman to land their “wrong fish” without penalty (and OK, without income to themselves). In the meantime, surveillance cameras, low-level fly-overs, and on-board “observers” — which the fisherman must host! — bring to bear an almost Stasi level of snooping.

    Small wonder the one-boat two-man crewed skipper population is falling.

    • It is the big players who are guilty of the labour abuses and the massive ship dumping and netting dolphins. Come on, it’s not the small fry. As the investigators who have been on the ground talking to the fishermen. It’s big quota holders, who sell that quota to foreign-owned vessels, who employ people from the 3rd world that are the problem. Those fishermen don’t have time to write poetry. They often don’t profit from their labour. If they spent too much time writing poetry – if they are literate, which is often not the case – they would probably be thrown off board. They’ve been beaten and worse for less. The men fishing our waters, by in large, are not paid per fish. Come on. You are trying to push a false narrative, just like the dairy companies and investors who are pretending in their million dollar adverts that they don’t practice industrial farming with lots of migrant labour.

      It’s sad, the extent of the right-wing (probably paid for) framing that goes on.

      Labour activists, internationalists many, are just racists who hate Chinese. Sure. Go and ask them.

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