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Pollution Response Team Actions Commended

Media Release

24 May 2013

Pollution Response Team Actions Commended

The skill and expertise of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s pollution response team was commended by Judge Rea in Napier District Court today.

Mutiara Fishing Limited was charged by HBRC under the Resource Management Act for an illegal discharge of a contaminant from a ship into water in a coastal marine area.

On 7 September last year, there was an accidental discharge of diesel fuel from the Mutiara II, a commercial fishing boat, which was refuelling and taking on ice and provisions at the Inner Harbour, Napier.

The discharge was caused by a closed valve which unbalanced the fuel tanks, causing the vessel to list and spill an estimated 1,500 litres of diesel fuel into the sea. Soon after the vessel’s master arrived and turned off all power which stopped the diesel discharge.

About 20 HBRC pollution response staff attended the spill to contain and clean up the diesel. The NZ Fire Service was also involved in the early stages. Three oiled penguins were rescued from the surrounding area and taken for treatment to Massey University. They have since recovered and were returned to their environment.

Judge Rea in his summing up stated: “As a citizen I am grateful for the speed and skill in which the situation was managed by the HBRC team. Their expertise is the main reason the damage to the environment was as little as it was.”

Judge Rea also noted that the fishing company was very proactive.

Mutiara Fishing Ltd took full responsibility for their actions and made an early guilty plea which led to a substantial reduction in the fine imposed by the Court. The initial fine of $25,000 was reduced to $11,250 because of the clear remorse shown by the defendant, assistance with clean up, the payment of clean up costs and the early guilty plea. An additional $2621.58 was awarded to HBRC for investigation costs and $2,500 for legal costs incurred.

Mutiara Fishing Ltd paid all cost of the clean up operation and rehabilitation of the 3 rescued and oiled penguins and has improved internal protocols and procedures. Crew assisted HBRC in deploying absorbent booms to collect oil from in between other vessels and the wharf, and to help confine the spill. The company has since purchased spill kits for their larger vessels and a mobile spill kit for rapid deployment to their smaller vessels.

“It’s a positive move by the company to improve their processes and ability to handle any spills in future, which other fishing companies should strongly consider before they run the risk of incidents of this nature,” says Bryce Lawrence, Manager Resource Use.


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