New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries v Wilton [2020] NZDC 26212

Published 16 June 2022

Sentencing — taking rock lobsters in breach of regulations — Sentencing Act 2002, s 106 — Fisheries Act 1996, s 255E — Bullen v MAF HC Auckland, AP162/93, 26 August 1993 — Bassel v Atwell [1995] 2 NZLR 537. The defendant had pleaded guilty to one charge of taking rock lobster in breach of the Fishing Regulations. He had landed a consignment of 446.36 kg, of which 225.04 kilograms or 465 individual lobsters were undersized. The defendant sought a discharge without conviction and an order that the property used in the offending not be forfeit. The Court considered whether special reasons existed to grant a discharge without conviction and an order that the property not be forfeit. The defendant submitted that the uniquely abnormal appearance of the crayfish spines made the crayfish appear larger; the behaviour of the crewmen at the time; and the nature of the fishing vessel amounted to special reasons. The Court concluded that these did not amount to special reasons. The Court then considered an appropriate sentence, noting that the defendant had pleaded guilty, had no prior convictions, was a kaitiaki for the local iwi. The reasons advanced by the defendant, while not amounting to special reasons, did mitigate the gravity of the offending. Because of these reasons, the Court determined that the fact of a conviction was a sufficient penalty in this instance. The defendant was convicted and discharged. Judgment Date: 15 December 2020.