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Maritime New Zealand gets tough on pollution

by Nancy Knudsen on 25 Feb 2013
Maritime New Zealand gets tough SW
Our neighbours across the water are getting tough on pollution. Maritime New Zealand have sent the clearest possible message to all craft, sailing, power, fishing. The message was a $10,500 find on a fishing company, owners of a fishing vessel which failed to notify authorities of two escapes of pollution into the sea.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says the $10,500 fine imposed yesterday on Southern Storm Fishing Ltd, owners of the fishing vessel Oyang 75, for failure to notify two discharges or escapes of harmful substances into the sea, shows that pollution of New Zealand's waters will not be tolerated.

The company was sentenced yesterday in Christchurch District Court on a charge under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 of failure to notify two harmful discharges to sea.

'The rules around discharging waste are clear – we will not allow any operators to flout these regulations and damage New Zealand’s marine environment,' MNZ Manager Intelligence and Planning Paul Fantham told the media.

'This is a significant fine and shows that there are serious consequences for those who break the law in this way.

'This sentence sends a clear message that those responsible for the operation of a vessel are also responsible for ensuring they are aware of all aspects relating to discharge of waste.'

On 8 August 2011, MNZ inspectors discovered a concealed piping arrangement aboard the Oyang 75 that allowed unfiltered bilge effluent, containing oil, to be discharged directly into the sea when a hidden pump switch was turned on. The arrangement was hidden under the floor plates of the engine room.

There was clear evidence that the piping had been used at least twice. While there is a clear legal requirement to notify the MNZ if harmful substances are discharged or escape into the sea, no such notification was made.

Under international maritime law (MARPOL), to which New Zealand is a signatory, vessels must use an oily water separator to remove harmful substances from any waste water discharged into the sea.

Southern Storm Fishing made a late guilty plea to a charge of failing to notify two discharges of a harmful substance to sea.
The law requires charges relating to alleged discharges to be laid within six months of the alleged offences. Because the vessel remained in port for all but six days after the inspection, charges relating to the actual discharge of waste were not possible. Therefore, a charge relating to failure to notify harmful discharges was laid in this case.
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