Fine sends clear message to polluters

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 43, April 2013

Southern Storm Fishing Ltd, owner of the fishing vessel Oyang 75, was fined $10,500 for failure to notify two discharges or escapes of harmful substances into the sea.

MNZ says the fine sends a clear message that pollution of New Zealand’s waters will not be tolerated.

The company faced charges under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 of failure to notify two harmful discharges into the sea.

“The rules around discharging waste are clear – we will not allow any operators to flout these regulations and damage New Zealand’s marine environment,” MNZ Manager Intelligence and Planning Paul Fantham said.

“This is a significant fine and shows that there are serious consequences for those who break the law in this way.

“This sentence sends a clear message that those responsible for the operation of a vessel are also responsible for ensuring they are aware of all aspects relating to discharge of waste,” says Paul.

On 8 August 2011, MNZ inspectors discovered a concealed piping arrangement aboard the Oyang 75 that allowed unfiltered bilge effluent, containing oil, to be discharged directly into the sea when a hidden pump switch was turned on. The arrangement was hidden under the floor plates of the engine room.

“There was clear evidence that the piping had been used at least twice. While there is a clear legal requirement to notify MNZ if harmful substances are discharged or escape into the sea, no such notification was made,” said Paul.

Under maritime rules and international maritime law (MARPOL), to which New Zealand is a signatory, vessels must use an oily water separator to remove harmful substances from any waste water discharged into the sea.

Southern Storm Fishing made a late guilty plea to a charge of failing to notify two discharges of a harmful substance to sea.

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