21 Sep 2012

Korean crew fined $424,000 for illegal dumping

8:52 pm on 21 September 2012

Four crew of a Korean fishing boat found guilty of dumping about $1 million worth of fish have been fined a total of $424,500 in the Christchurch District Court.

The captain of the Oyang 75 was fined $208,500 for his ultimate responsibility in the illegal dumping of more than 400 tonnes of quota fish off the South Island.

Prosecutor Grant Fletcher described the dumping as blatant, wilful, arrogant and stupid.

"In an industry which makes millions of dollars and can make very large profits per trip, the court has to set a fine at such a level to make the offending patently uneconomic."

He says the the penalties are punitive enough to discourage the practice.

Peter Hyde, from the Ministry for Primary Industries, says he is pleased with the fines imposed for what is believed to be the largest case of fish dumping in New Zealand's history.

Mr Hyde says the Government will now order the Oyang 75 be forfeited but a further hearing about its future is likely to be months away. He says the boat is worth $US8.5 million.

Mr Hyde says the vessel is currently fishing off the coast of Mauritius, but the ministry is holding a bond against it.

He says the bond is enough to cover the fines.

None of the crew, who have failed to appear since being charged, were in court on Friday.

A fifth officer found guilty of aiding the dumping is still to make a last-minute submission, and his sentencing has been delayed.

The court heard earlier the dumped fish was mainly hoki, in excess of the quota, after the trawler fished for too long and got too many fish in its net.