MPI warns those illegally selling seafood on social media
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has issued a warning to those selling seafood illegally through social media that they will incur penalties for violating the Fisheries Act.
This warning comes after the number of complaints they have received has significantly increased in recent years. MPI received 57 complaints in 2015 and 96 in 2016, and they have already recorded 160 calls and emails since January reporting Facebook posts selling recreationally caught seafood such as crayfish, kina and pāua.
According to MPI Fisheries Compliance Manager Greg Keys, people are often aware that their actions are illegal. In an attempt to curb this behaviour, MPI has stated that offences could result in fines of up to $250,000.
"This is simply another vehicle that people use to illegally sell recreational catch," said Keys. "That figure doesn't include multiple complaints about the same post so, in reality, the number of complaints is significantly higher than that."
With the weather getting warmer, MPI fears that this will boost illegal activity. Keys highlights the fact that it is against the law to both buy and sell these products, and MPI is ensuring every reported incident is followed up on to ensure not only compliance with the law but to also uphold safety.
"The rules are in place to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries as well as to ensure seafood meets food safety standards.
"For example, we were recently alerted to the illegal sale of kina on Facebook where the kina in question was actually from an area under a shellfish biotoxin alert," stated Keys.
One positive takeaway of these increasing numbers are that more people are clamping down on suspicious or illegal behaviour and helping to prevent it from continuing. MPI encourages those who encounter the illegal sale of seafood on social media to get in contact via phone, email or by using their regional Facebook pages.
"Ensuring and promoting sustainable fisheries is a collective responsibility. We encourage people to report poaching or illegal activity by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or using our main Facebook site."
Any report should include detailed information such as the location, vehicle/trailer registration number, boat name, description of the person and screenshots of the listing. All reports will remain confidential.
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