Greenpeace today revealed that the seafood company Sanford, and several other large New Zealand fishing companies, own the entity to which MPI recently awarded a contract to install cameras and to electronically monitor fishing at sea.
“This is like the fox guarding the henhouse,” says Russel Norman, Executive Director of Greenpeace New Zealand. “The Government has awarded the contract to monitor fishing companies to an entity owned and controlled by the very same fishing companies.
Trident Systems, the firm that won the contract from MPI for electronic monitoring, is a limited partnership. Its general partner is a company called Trident Systems General Partner Limited, which is 42% owned by a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanford. This Sanford subsidiary is also a limited partner in Trident Systems. The remainder of the shareholders and limited partners in Trident are made up by a selection of other New Zealand fishing and seafood companies.
“This is especially troubling,” says Norman, “because three separate MPI investigations have indicated Sanford were either engaged in potentially illegal activities, or the vessels supplying them were engaged in potentially illegal behaviour.”
“We’ve now seen several leaked MPI investigation reports that variously found that fishing companies were not reporting all of the fish they caught, misreporting fish weight, discarding huge amounts of dead fish, and not reporting dolphin deaths.
“We’ve got a serious problem with badly behaved fishing companies, and what do MPI do? They award the contract to monitor fishing boats to an entity owned and controlled by the fishing companies themselves.”
Norman believes there is something seriously wrong at MPI and in New Zealand’s fishing industry. Three leaked MPI reports found evidence of likely offending in the Sanford supply chain, yet MPI chose not to prosecute Sanford or anyone else, and then buried the reports which exposed the illegal activity.
Greenpeace can also reveal that Trident’s registered office and contact address is level 6, 135 Victoria Street, Wellington. This is the address of Seafood New Zealand (Seafic), a powerful seafood industry funded lobby group. It is also the address of FishServe, an administrative support service for the fishing industry, owned by Seafic. Seafic are also contracted to provide administrative support for Trident. Trident appears to be anything but an independent and objective watchdog for the industry.
“To rub salt into the wound,” says Norman, “MPI has not only engaged a fishing industry controlled entity to monitor and report on itself, but taxpayers are paying for the monitoring.
In apparent response to the public outcry the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, has asked officials to bring forward the installation of 1400 fishing vessels with cameras, vessel monitoring systems and electronic reporting.
“But if this monitoring of 1400 fishing vessels is done by an entity that the fishing companies control then the public will have no confidence in this monitoring”
What has emerged since the release of the University of Auckland’s catch reconstruction report are a series of troubling facts that suggest MPI has repeatedly failed to prosecute Sanford, is hopelessly compromised, perhaps even captured, by New Zealand fishing industry interests.
“These facts, together with the clear links between Sanford and the National led government, and in particular links between the National Party and Sanford, are troubling and why an independent Commission of Inquiry is needed into MPI and its regulation of the fishing industry.
The release of a University of Auckland catch reconstruction report saw academics, environmental NGOs, recreational fishing groups, and Matt Watson, host of the ITM Fishing Show, calling for MPI to be investigated.
“When you’ve got the greenies, the rec fishers, and academics all on the same page, it shows you’ve got a serious problem, and that’s not going to be fixed by the fishing companies policing themselves,” said Norman.
MPI proposed electronic camera monitoring as a solution to monitor and enforce fisheries regulations by commercial fishing trawlers in the SNA1 fishery. SNA1 fishery is the largest and most valuable inshore fishery in New Zealand.
In July 2015 MPI issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking proposals from organisations that would:
Record 100% of fishing activity in SNA1
Recording and reporting the volume of undersize snapper returned to the water
Monitoring the application of the”fishers move on rule”
Identify and report instances of suspected non-compliance with fishing regulations
The RFP required the provider to review camera footage and report to MPI monthly.
Trident Systems LP was awarded the tender on 17 December 2015.
Trident Systems LP is registered with the Companies Office as a Limited Partnership. The Trident Systems website states that it is governed by the Board of Trident Systems General Partners Limited (Trident Systems GPL), a limited liability company.
Trident Systems GPL shareholdings are recorded by the Companies Office as follows;
Sanford Investments Limited*
133094 shares (42.35%)
Moana Fishing Limited
Allocation 2:83924 shares (26.70%)
Charisma Developments Limited
Allocation 3:25855 shares (8.23%)
Independent Fisheries Limited
Allocation 4:22000 shares (7.00%)
Star Fish Supply Limited
Allocation 5:10001 shares (3.18%)
Solander Maritime Limited
Allocation 6:10000 shares (3.18%)
Chatham Islands Quota Holding Limited
Allocation 7:8403 shares (2.67%)
ICP Inshore ACE Limited Partnership
Allocation 8:6910 shares (2.20%)
Kahungunu Asset Holding Company Limited
Allocation 9:3705 shares (1.18%)
Leigh Fisheries Limited
Allocation 10:3205 shares (1.02%)
Gisborne Fisheries 1955 Limited
Allocation 11:2500 shares (0.80%)
Urwin and Company Limited
Allocation 12:2316 shares (0.74%)
Lyttelton Trawling Co Limited
Allocation 13:1362 shares (0.43%)
Egmont Seafoods Limited
Allocation 14:1000 shares (0.32%)
* Peter Goodfellow is a director of Sanford Ltd, and his family holds substantial shares in the Sanford business. He is President of the New Zealand National Party.