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Amaltal Skipper Intimates A Guilty Plea To A Charge Under The Marine Reserves Act

Amaltal skipper intimates a guilty plea to a charge under the Marine Reserves Act 1971, apologises to company

On 4 March 2020, in the Nelson District Court, the skipper of the Amaltal Mariner has intimated a guilty plea to one charge under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 for an incident that occurred in March 2019, and has apologised to Amaltal.

In March last year, the vessel started a tow outside the Hikurangi Marine Reserve and then accidentally crossed the line into the reserve whilst fishing. During the brief time the net was in the reserve $213 worth of fish was caught. No benthic organisms were recorded as being caught in the tow.

The skipper said that “I realise the importance of maintaining the integrity of the system, whether it be under the Fisheries Act or whether it is a marine reserve under the Marine Reserves Act.

“I can confirm that the company takes its compliance obligations very seriously and these obligations are impressed upon Captains. As such, as Captain, I acknowledge and accept that the compliance obligations at sea are my responsibility,” he says. “I would never and did not intentionally fish in a marine reserve. It was an honest mistake. The company was not aware that I had fished in the area and was not in any way responsible. I do not wish my actions to be a reflection upon the fishing activities of Talley’s and the compliance record that they have.”

The skipper added that he had apologised unreservedly to the company and his crew.

Tony Hazlett from Amaltal says the one-time mistake was made by a skipper who had fished for more than 40 years with no previous incidents.

“Amaltal takes the sustainability of the marine environments where we fish seriously, and do not condone fishing in closed areas,” Hazlett says. “We have cooperated fully with Fisheries NZ on this matter, and will continue to do so.

“A skipper is provided with all the resources and equipment necessary for fishing lawfully, including maritime charts, copies of fisheries laws, regulations, electronic navigation equipment and regular compliance training,” he says. “They are then provided a catch plan for each trip, but it is a skipper’s responsibility to determine exactly where to fish and to ensure the vessel operates legally once at sea. The skipper of the Amaltal Mariner knows this, has taken full responsibility for his mistake, and has pleaded guilty to the charge.”

“Given the training and resources provided and how experienced the skipper is, we were alarmed that he had entered a marine reserve,” he says. “We have undertaken a detailed internal investigation into the incident, which confirmed the skipper’s report that he made an unintentional mistake and will face disciplinary action. We have also reiterated to all our skippers the importance of strict compliance with all fishing and maritime regulations.”

Hazlett said as required in the Marine Reserves Act 1971, the vessel has been seized by Fisheries NZ and bonded back to Amaltal. Amaltal has entered a not guilty plea to the charge.

Note to editor: There will be no further comment as the matter is in front of the courts.

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