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Amaltal fully cooperating following fishing incident

Press Release
30 January 2019

Amaltal fully cooperating following fishing incident

The fishing vessel Amaltal Apollo stopped fishing as soon as it was aware the vessel’s captain had inadvertently fished in an unauthorised area in the Tasman Sea as defined by the South Pacific Regional Fishing Management Organisation (SPRFMO).

The area, which was previously open to fishing, had been historically and lawfully fished by the vessel.

The Amaltal Apollo was in the area in May 2018 only after the captain had sought express confirmation from an onboard observer from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) that the area remained open and the vessel was entitled to fish there. When asked by the captain if he was permitted to fish in the area concerned, the observer confirmed he was.

The observer’s incorrect advice came from inconsistencies between the data provided to him by MPI and the vessel’s High Seas permit. The observer unit of MPI had provided the observer with incorrect information regarding the closed and open areas.

Following the incident, the company immediately worked alongside MPI to comply with the investigation, which is standard procedure.

Amaltal spokesman Tony Hazlett says the error was a technical one that was made based on out-of - date information given by the MPI observer by the Ministry’s observer unit.

“We categorically reject any suggestion that there was deliberate and intentional fishing in any closed area,” he says. “Our captain fished with the full knowledge and complete approval of the MPI observer."

“The company will defend any charges given the circumstances, as we’re confident that our skipper and company acted innocently at all times."

He says the company has used the incident to enact process improvements.

“We have taken the opportunity to improve every aspect of our processes because we are serious about compliance – mistake or no mistake,” Hazlett says.

Following the incident, New Zealand, the flag country, through MPI reported it to SPRFMO, which placed the Amaltal Apollo on its Draft IUU List of fishing vessels, part of the international procedure.

Hazlett says the company also followed the MPI process of setting aside the proceeds of the sale of the fish caught in the unauthorised area.

“There is an ongoing process that MPI is undertaking under the Fisheries Act and we understand that our vessel was placed on SPRFMO’s Draft IUU List, being responsible to our flag state obligations under this agreement. However, because the incident was unintentional, self-reported, and investigated immediately, it was expected that the vessel would be removed from the Draft IUU list at the SPRFMO meeting this month."

At the meeting the Commission agreed to “task the Secretariat to include the Amaltal Apollo on the Draft IUU List next year. The Commission endorsed the removal of the Amaltal Apollo from the 2019 Provisional List and adopted the 2019 Final IUU List”[1], which did not include the Amaltal Apollo.

“The spirit of the SPRFMO agreement is to identify and publicise truly unregulated and illegal vessels,” Hazlett says. “Ours is not one of those vessels. We are part of New Zealand’s broader fishing fleet and we are a country in good standing with SPRFMO and have been a long vigorous proponent for rules and regulations under international waters."

“We have taken every conceivable step to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.

Amaltal is an experienced Deepwater fisher company respected for its high seas fishing experience and integrity, and we will continue this tradition. We would expect improvements to MPI processes as well, to ensure accuracy of information available,” he says.

Background

Amaltal Fishing Company is the deepwater fishing division and a subsidiary of Talley’s Group Limited.

Note for editors:

As the matter is before the courts the company will not be making any further comments.

1 7th Annual Meeting of the Commission Meeting report, clause 31. http://www.sprfmo.int/assets/0-2019- Annual-Meeting/COMM-7/COMM7-report-28Jan-21.15hrs.pdf

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