SS Fishing has been fined NZD 1,500 for breaches of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Act. The company is a joint venture formed by Sanford, Sealord and Amatal to fish for Antarctic toothfish. The company was fined NZD 750 on two charges of not complying with the research provisions of the act.
Initially the two boats, the Janas and the San Aotea, and their catch were seized by the Ministry of Fisheries. It accused the company of fishing for toothfish without a permit. Subsequently these charges were dropped.
Under New Zealand's obligations to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Reserves (CCAMLR) all boats granted a permit to fish must also collect data. Both vessels failed to do this in their last fishing area.
Those on board the two vessels believed that they did not have follow the research conditions imposed under the permit if they were departing directly for the home port. In this case the decision to leave the fishing area had been caused by bad weather.
Judge Walker felt that the breach was caused by a mistaken interpretation of the conditions of the act. He also accepted in mitigation that the company had made a considerable contribution to research and had not previously offended against the fishing laws.
The judge also said that it was a case to be contrasted with offences such as illegal fishing which undermine conservation measures. The Ministry of Fisheries did not suggest that there had been any conduct that undermined conservation measures.
This is the first prosecution under the act.