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More on the Scampi Saga

An industry expert comments - 19/4/2004

Related article http://www.nzine.co.nz/views/scampi_fishing.html

Quotations from Winston Peters' media statements reveal changed attitudes.

Vaughan Hilton Wilkinson left the Ministry of Fisheries in 1988 to work at Simunovich Fisheries. Vaughan is the person at Simunovich who is responsible for the development of its company's scampi fishing operations. When Vaughan left the ministry he took his knowledge and skill set with him. As an oceanographer and a senior ministry official Vaughan has a good knowledge of how the ministry regulates commercial fishing activities within NZ fisheries waters.

In 1986 MAF introduced a policy that meant that any person who applied for a permit to fish for scampi was granted one without catch limits. In 1987 Simunovich decided it wanted to fish for Scampi and asked MAF if it could use a smaller mesh size on its net because of the small size of Scampi. MAF subsequently granted a special permit to Simunovich Fisheries giving the right to use 43mm mesh sized nets rather than the 125mm minimum at the time. In or about February 1998 Simunovich started to successfully fish for scampi. By 1991 Simunovich had purchased and modified 6 vessels so they would be good at 'hunting' for scampi in New Zealand fisheries waters.

However in 1991 MAF altered the way it issued fishing permits for scampi. It is alleged that Simunovich had 'an inside running' - leading to the idea that the Ministry officials seemed to give preferential treatment when they determined how much scampi quota they would provide to Simunovich and other fishing companies.

Winston Peters was made aware of this anomaly and on 16 Oct 2001 released a media statement entitled GROSS INCOMPETENCE IN FISHERIES, HEADS NEED TO ROLL- PETERS In the release the Rt Hon Winston Peters called for the dismissal of the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Fisheries after a case in the Court of Appeal found that both the Ministry and its Chief Executive were guilty of gross incompetence; faulty allocation of scampi quota; wanton disregard for due process; and unlawful treatment of fishers. The actions of the Ministry have seriously damaged some fishing firms and have meant that some fishers were not allowed to fish.

Mr Peters went on to say "In the damning judgment, the Ministry were criticised for effectively giving one set of fishers open access to fisheries, while blocking off other fishers through a series of sheer incompetent decisions and bureaucratic bungling. The result is that some fishers who were unfairly blocked off from the lucrative scampi catch had to sue the Ministry? He then called on the Minister of Fisheries to invoke an immediate enquiry into the manner in which the Ministry is carrying out its duties and in particular the suitability of the CEO Warwick Tuck to continue his role.

The inquiry into the administration and management of the scampi fishery, commenced on 3 Oct 2003.

.. Winston Peters wrote a paper analysing the report of the primary production committee into the scampi fishery. He wrote "In short, parts of the report are wrong in fact and in places wrong in law to the detriment of a balanced presentation of the information available."

He went on to lambast TVNZ's coverage of the Scampi crisis by stating that the Assignment television programme "substantially influenced public opinion and this parliament and ultimately resulted in this inquiry"

Hence we see the 180-degree turn Winston made. First he demanded an inquiry, then secondly he changed his tune and defamed the inquiry and the report of its findings.




 
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