NZ fishing company hit with big fine

New Zealand fishing company Sanford has been fined $2.2 million (NZ) by a US court for dumping oil waste from tuna fishing vessel, the San Nikunau, off American Samoa.

The company was also ordered to pay another $597,000 as a community service payment to the US National Fisheries Foundation and is subject to a three-year probationary period during which Sanford vessels cannot enter US Ports.

The sentence was handed down in the US District Court in Washington.

The US Justice Department called for a $3.5m fine and a five year probation period - a sentence Sanford lawyers said was "excessive".

Sanford Lawyers said that the company's fleet was no longer calling at US ports or travelling in its waters.

"Historically, Sanford Vessels rarely transited through US waters, but now avoid doing so. Our vessels no longer use Pago Pago as an unloading port with all catch now being sold and transferred to fish carriers at sea or landed in New Zealand," said managing director Eric Barrat.

Mr Barrat said they were pleased the court issue behind them and they will now concentrate their efforts on improving overall environmental compliance.


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