Restaurants’ owner fined

A company which owns restaurants in Queenstown and Te Anau has been fined $10,400 after breaching fishery laws.

Chan Farther and Son Ltd appeared for sentence before Judge Peter Rollo in the Invercargill District Court yesterday on two charges of possessing prohibited fish for sale and two charges of failing to comply with a Fisheries direction.

Hoi Yeung Chan is the sole director of the company.

In the summary of facts presented by counsel for the Ministry of Primary Industries, it says the company owns two restaurants in Te Anau, China City Restaurant and Ming Garden Chinese.

In 2016, both restaurants had received warning letters relating to the transfer of fish from one to the other without the appropriate invoices.

In March 2018, fishing officers carried out routine inspections at both restaurants and it had been identified that the transfers were still happening between the two restaurants and also at the other restaurant owned by the company, Mandarin Restaurant in Queenstown.

A notice of direction was issued to the company and fishery officers also met Mr Chan on February 20, 2019, to educate him about requirements.

On January 13, 2020, two chefs were caught in possession of more than 200 shucked undersize paua taken from the Bluff Mataitai.

Two days later, fishery officers conducted a further inspection at both Te Anau restaurants.

Officers found 6kg of frozen paua at both restaurants but the last invoice produced for paua was one issued to China City having a purchase date of November 2, 2019.

The summary says Chinese New Year and the summer period would have been the busiest time for the restaurants.

"It is inconceivable that no paua would have been sold over the preceding 76 days."

During the same January 15, 2020, visit, six live blue cod, 10 live rock lobsters and approximately 20 live Pacific oysters as well as 2kg paua, 60kg of stargazer, 23kg of crayfish were found and quantities of fish in a freezer.

The manager at the time said the live blue cod and rock lobsters had come from China City and was unable to produce invoices for the transfer of the seafood.

Another inspection was carried out at Ming Garden Chinese on February 18, 2021. Two live rock lobsters and a variety of frozen seafood was found at the restaurant.

Again invoices could not be provided.

The director, who was present at the 2021 inspection, told officers he was not sure why invoices could not be produced but explained he had very little oversight at the Te Anau restaurants but had spoken to staff about the requirements.

The summary says when restaurants and retail outlets failed to keep the appropriate invoices, it allowed for the possibility of black market seafood being introduced and laundered through premises.

Judge Rollo said yesterday the Chan director’s explanation for the lack of invoices was not satisfactory as it was his responsibility to ensure staff followed rules, regulations and laws.

"An aggravating feature is that these breaches took place after there have been previous warning and direction given by the ministry."

Judge Rollo fined the company $10,400 and ordered it to pay court costs of $520.



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