Forensics foil fishy infringment

The forensic analysis of paint has lead to the fining of a fisherman for the illegal dumping of excess fish, 

Facing robust scientific evidence, a Tauranga commercial fisher has pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court to a charge of being a party to the dumping of snapper.

Dumping of legal size quota species of fish is prohibited under the Fisheries Act 1996 because all legal size quota species must be landed and counted against the fisher’s annual catch entitlement.

The charges in question came about after another fisherman discovered hundreds of dead, dumped snapper floating offshore in the Bay of Plenty. Ministry officials examining the dumped fish found flakes of paint under the scales of the fish. The paint samples were sent to Iso-Trace, a University of Otago company,  for analysis.  The chemists at Iso-Trace were able to provide data on the chemical make-up of the paint, helping officials to identify the offending vessel.

Read more about the story in the Ministry of Fisheries press release.

The forensic “CSI” angle of the story has captured the attention of the media. Examples of coverage include:

Radio New Zealand: Scientists track illegal fish dump

NewsTalk ZB: Fisherman caught dumping snapper

TVNZ News: Paint traces catch out fisherman

Bay of Plenty Times: CSI-style forensics used to catch fisherman

Yahoo News: Paint flakes lead to fish dumping fine