Friday, January 28, 2022

Whitianga fishing company hooks $6,500 fine

The Tuna Fishing Company Limited has been fined $6,500 for operating a vessel commercially before its certificate of survey was issued, Maritime NZ said today.

Maritime NZ took action against the Whitianga-based commercial fishing company, under the Maritime Transport Act (1994). The company pleaded guilty to the charge in Thames District Court yesterday.

Michael-Paul Abbott, Maritime NZ’s Compliance Manager – Central Region, said the fine reflected the severity of the incident.

“Commercial operators must always have a certificate of survey issued, that meets New Zealand’s safety standards, before operating a vessel,” said Mr Abbott.

The vessel, Northern Odyssey, was imported by The Tuna Fishing Company from Fiji into New Zealand on January 1, 2020. A certificate of survey for the Northern Odyssey was issued on 15 June 2020.

However, before the certificate of survey was issued, the company decided to use the vessel for commercial fishing activity, over several weeks, off the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty and East Cape of the North Island.

“This company clearly knew the rules and chose to break them for commercial gain,” said Mr Abbott.

Having a valid certificate of survey to ensure vessels meet New Zealand safety standards is a requirement of an operator’s Maritime Transport Operator Certificate (MTOC). Any commercial gain made while a vessel is being operated without a certificate of survey is illegal.

Mr Abbott said the incident sent a serious message to commercial operators.

“The Maritime Transport Act must be adhered to at all times. Commercial operators are responsible for ensuring they follow the legislation to ensure safe work practices,” Mr Abbott said.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $668.56 to Maritime NZ and $130 in court costs.

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