The master of a Hawke's Bay fishing boat has been fined $13,000 for failing to protect seabirds while long-lining for tuna and swordfish.
David Robin Macale, 48, failed to deploy seabird scaring tori lines 20 times between May and June 2016, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said on Friday.
He appeared in the Napier District Court via audio visual link on Thursday and was fined on one single representative charge covering all 20 occasions.
Steve Ham, MPI national manager of fisheries compliance, said the breaches happened while Macale was fishing for southern bluefin tuna and swordfish off the East Coast of the North Island.
The surface long line sets that he deployed ranged from 8 to 19 nautical miles long and contained over 1000 hooks, he said.
At the time of the offending, Macale was the master of the Stella B vessel. The boat was using the fishing permit of Esplanade No 3 Ltd, which was part of the Hawke's Bay Seafoods group of companies. MPI said Esplanade No 3 was banned from holding a fishing permit in 2019 and again last year after repeated convictions for serious fisheries related offending.
"All commercial fishers have a responsibility to take these practical measures to minimise the chance of harming seabirds," Ham said on Friday.
"Ignoring these important regulations not only threatens seabirds but also threatens the reputation of the commercial fishing industry which largely follows the rules."
He said the sentence was meant to send a strong message to other commercial fishers - "it's simply not worth the risk if you intentionally disregard these regulations".
"Tori lines, also called streamer lines, are inexpensive. They act as a scarecrow to deter seabirds from attacking the baited hooks off long lines.
"New Zealand has more species of seabirds than anywhere else in the world. They are a key component of our marine environment and we want to ensure we look after them."