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Lyttelton polluters fined $22,000

Lyttelton polluters fined $22,000

A 50 litre oil spill in Lyttelton Harbour last year has resulted in a $22,000 fine for a New Zealand fishing company and the Korean owners of the fishing vessel, Melilla 201.

Daehyung Agriculture and Fisheries Limited and the New Zealand company that chartered the Melilla 201, Transpacific Fishing Limited, were both convicted in the Christchurch District Court under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Environment Judge Jeff Smith said that whilst a fine of $30,000 would have been appropriate, a significant reduction was given for the early guilty plea by the Korean owners and for the ship’s crew’s co-operation in cleaning up the spill.

He imposed a fine of $12,000 on the Korean company. The New Zealand charterer, Transpacific Fishing, initially entered a plea of innocence on the basis of its “arms-length” involvement as charterer. It subsequently argued that this should significantly reduce the fine. Nevertheless, Judge Smith imposed a fine of $10,000 on the company, which included a lesser reduction for the late guilty plea.

In his verdict Judge Smith also noted that an infringement notice of $1000 had been issued on the ship a few months before the spill which should have served as a clear warning.

The joint chairman of Environment Canterbury’s regulation overview committee, Cr Alec Neill, says the ship, its owners and charterers clearly did not take heed of the earlier warning, and it’s only fair that they should now pay the price. “There is a clear onus on New Zealand companies chartering foreign vessels to ensure that those ships do not pollute our harbours,” he says.

Earlier last week, two overseas-owned companies were fined a total of $70,000 - the highest ever -- for a spill of around 400 litres of light fuel oil during refuelling in Lyttelton Harbour of the Antares, a small bulk carrier on its way from Peru to Tasmania.


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