Crackdown on undersized fish sales
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has moved in to charge three people accused of selling various species of undersized fish at the Savalalo fish market.
On Tuesday this week, the three accused were named on the District Court list for allegedly selling undersized fish and more locals will be facing legal actions for the fisheries offence.
Asenati Suni who is facing one count of displaying for sale three egg bearing lobsters at Savalalo fish market disputed the information of the charge against her.
When she was asked to enter her plea to the allegation mounted by M.A.F. the woman claimed there was only one egg bearing lobster and the other two were within the legal requirement.
Ms. Suni was not represented by a lawyer.
She told the Court that she pleads guilty to one egg bearing lobster but not three as noted in the charge information.
District Court Judge, Loau Donald Kerslake then queried the M.A.F. lawyer Glory Fuimaono about the matter raised by the defendant if they wished to amend the charge.
Ms. Fuimaono objected to this saying the Ministry will proceed with the charge that noted three egg bearing lobsters.
Judge Kerslake said he will note the defendant’s not guilty plea to reflect her position in disputing the information of the charge.
A hearing has been set down for 17th February next year.
Another accused that was called for allegations of undersized fishing is Kepi Taliaoa.
The lawyer for M.A.F. told the Court they wish to withdraw the charges against the named defendant because he had been missing at sea earlier this year.
Ms. Fuimaono said a report from Police confirmed the defendant is deceased and seeks leave to drop the charge.
Judge Kerslake granted leave to withdraw and dismiss the charge against the deceased fisherman.
The third defendant charged by the Ministry for allegedly selling undersized fish is Vaililo Saio.
The defendant didn’t turn up to Court but has been served.
A warrant of arrest has been issued for Mr. Saio.
M.A.F. has moved to prosecute locals for harvesting small sized fish to sustain the supply of fish for today and tomorrow.
By law there are required measurements that certain fish species need to meet before they can be displayed for sale. Any fish below 180 millimeters are prohibited for fishing.
Minister of M.A.F., Laauli Leuatea Schmidt urged members of the public to stop fishing small sized fish to sustain food security for the next generation.