Sanfords is the latest big fishing company to get itself in to trouble fishing where it shouldn’t. The vessel San Waitaki was caught trawling in a closed area multiple times in 2017 and 2018. Update from ECO.
They were fishing for orange roughy which made up 22.86 tonnes from a total catch of 24.97 tonnes of fish. Penalties imposed by the Court include fines, forfeiture of the catch and vessel to the Crown. The fish were sold ($150,720) and the value was also forfeited.
The company plead guilty to three representative charge of fishing in a closed area. The closed areas they were caught fishing in, and which they reported not having the charts for, was one of the areas the fishing industry proposed to be closed in 2007, mainly to avoid closing real protected areas.
Last year as reported by Stuff: “Sealord forfeited a $21 million fishing vessel for a similar offence to the Sanford case. But the vessel was returned after Sealord paid a redemption fee of about $70,000.”
That is 0.33 percent of the value of vessel. That like a boy racer having their $20,000 car seized and getting it back by paying just under $67.
If this level of forfeiture and redemption fee is repeated with Sanford they could buy back their vessel worth $20 million for under $67,000.
Sanfords were also fined $36,000. Sanfords have told the NZX markets on 2 February that they have insurance to cover the fines..
ECO has found at least one insurance company offers insurance for large commercial fishing operations and their vessels, including for fines for “inadvertent” breaches.
The Health and Safety at Work Act section 29 makes the use of Insurance against fines unlawful. There is no similar provision in the Fisheries Act or in resource management legislation. It is time the Government considered whether it is appropriate for corporates to avoid liability by investing in insurance.