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Penalties On Tai Ping Written Off As Ridiculous

Nelson, New Zealand
Friday, 30 January 2004-Focus Media Ltd,

Penalties given to Pilot guilty of "Tai Ping" error and South Port written off as "ridiculous".

National Spokesperson for Transport, the Hon Maurice Williamson has labeled the $750 fine given to Pilot of the Tug who admitted failing to ensure a vessel was navigated in accordance with MSA regulations this week in the Invercargill district as "ridiculous".

Captain David Yeowell, Pilot of the Tug Hauroko, pleaded guilty this week in the southland court of failing to ensure a vessel was navigated in accordance with MSA regulations. As a result of the conviction the Pilot who sources says annual income is over $50, 000 per annum was fined a derisory $750 for his role an accident in what Paul Nicholas, secretary of the NZ Shippers council, described as an accident that could have easily been Southlands worst ever ecological disaster.

The "Tai Ping" struck rocks in Bluff Harbor 15 months ago and became the subject of the MSA's first ever conviction of a Port Authority by the Maritime Safety Authority in New Zealand. Judge Peter Butler also fined South Port $7, 500 after it admitted it provided piloted services and tug assistance in a manner likely to cause a danger or risk on October 8, 2002. Maurice Williamson today was not the only MP to voice his extreme condemnation of level of fines Judge Butler gave the guilty parties. Act spokesperson for Transport Peter Brown described the fines as "a pittance" and described the Pilots actions that led to the accident as "bizarre and an example of Captain who has a total lack of responsibility". Mr. Brown went on to say "lets hope Captain Yeowell and South Port have learnt their lesson from this very significant mishap".

The Act spokesperson went onto say fines handed down of $750 and $7500 respectively to the Pilot and South Port send the wrong message to the Maritime industry. "What Judge Butler failed to do was to penalize the people who endangered Southlands precious marine environment in a manner that is so low the Judge is saying its ok to run an unsafe operation".

The MSA were unavailable for comment regarding whether or not they would be appealing the level of penalties imposed. South Port also refused to comment.

For more information: http://www.portfocus.co.nz or Contact: Liam Butler editor www.Portfocus.co.nz Liam@PortFocus.co.nz

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