[22 June/NZ Herald]

Four fishing boats could be lost as a four year legal battle cumulates following the search of the headquarters of Hawke’s Bay Seafoods. The possible loss was signalled yesterday after 130 convictions were entered in the Wellington District Court which originated from fishing catch regulation breaches. A total of 85 convictions were entered against company directors and managers. Another 15 were entered against the company, 22 against a boat owner and eight against Ocean Enterprises. The prosecutions alleged multiple under reporting of catches. The value of the exported fish not included in the catch returns was put at around $253,000. The Ministry for Primary Industries said Marcus D’Esposito recorded the quantity of bluenose caught and he knew the recorded weight was lower than that which had been landed. Forest and Bird Spokesman, Geoff Keey, said it was not a simple mistake, but systematic and organised fraud.