Monday, January 14, 2013

Sanford's Shame

A US court last Friday fined New Zealand fishing company Sanford almost NZ$2.3 million for dumping oil waste in waters off American Samoa.
The company was sentenced after being convicted last August, over an incident involving its biggest tuna fishing vessel San Nikunau. Criminal charges filed in Jan.2012 alleged the crew of San Nikunau repeatedly illegally dumped bilge water contaminated with oil into the ocean near American Samoa, and then tried to cover it up. The oil was never spotted, but US authorities discovered falsified records on board.
Besides the $US1.9m fine, the court ordered Sanford to pay a $US500K Community Service Payment to the National Fisheries Foundation. And a probationary period of three years has been set, meaning the Sanford fleet can't enter US ports or fish in American waters in that time, until approved audits of the Company's
The San Nikunau - busted!
Environmental Compliance Plan have been completed. The first audit is this February.
Managing director Eric Barratt says the company will now concentrate on improving environmental compliance. It was found guilty on six of seven counts, relating to failure to properly maintain San Nikunau's oil record book and the obstruction of port state control inspections by the US Coast Guard. Sanford's had two previous convictions for discharging contaminants, the most recent in 2006.
Last week, San Nikunau's former chief engineer James Pogue was sentenced to one month in prison, 5mths' home detention and 18mths' probation for falsifying records.
+ Researcher Glenn Simmons from Auckland University says NZ authorities should have spotted the boat was bypassing its oil water seperator and stopped it from sailing. He says the case is a blemish on the country's supposedly clean green image. He feels it'll happen again unless Maritime NZ cracks down on other vessels that also dump their oil waste. Maritime NZ says it takes a zero tolerance approach to breaches of its rules on discharging oily waste.
Meanwhile Maritime Union prez Garry Parsloe says the penalty is harsh, but appropriate. He says all NZ vessels in US waters are now likely to face greater scrutiny.

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