$10,500 fine for fishing boat's secret dumping

04:38, Feb 22 2013
Oyang 75
OYANG 75: South Korean fishing boat fined heavily for dumping waste at sea from secret bilge.

A South Korean fishing boat has been fined heavily for dumping waste at sea after inspectors found it had hidden piping controlled by a secret switch that allowed it to secretly dump bilge, including oil, into the sea unnoticed, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

It is the second time foreign charter vessel Oyang 75 has been punished recently.

In the latest action, the Christchurch District Court has fined its charter, Southern Storm Fishing Ltd, $10,500 on a charge under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 of failure to notify two harmful discharges to sea.

Southern Storm, who under the act was treated as the owner, made a late guilty plea.

Last year the same vessel was fined more than $420,000 for trawling activities described in court as "arrogant" and "incompetent".

Last year the court also ordered the forfeiture of the Seijo Oyang Corporation's 68-metre stern trawler worth up to US$8 million. That order is under appeal.


Last August MNZ inspectors discovered a concealed piping arrangement aboard 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," MNZ said. 

"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 the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships - MARPOL - vesses must use an oily water separator to remove harmful substances from any waste water discharged into the sea.

MNZ Manager Intelligence and Planning Paul Fantham said the rules were clear and they could not allow operators to damage New Zealand's marine environment.

"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."

Oyang 75 could not be charged over the actual discharge of waste because it had to have been charged within six months of the alleged offences. It had not been in port long enough for charges to be laid, so it was convicted of the slightly lesser charge.

Last year Oyang 75 was convicted over fisheries offences which included high grading or dumping lesser value catch overboard.

Its Indonesian crew walked off last year alleging under-payment of wages and physical abuse.

Oyang 75 was bought into New Zealand by Sajo Oyang to replace Oyang 70 which sank in 2010 with the loss of six men, east of Otago.

At the time Oyang spokesman Glenn Inwood, better known for his advocacy of Japanese whaling, invited media aboard, saying it was a model of modern fishing.

The Ministry of Fisheries at the time placed four officers aboard to "up-skill to be more effective managers of New Zealand's world class quota management system," Inwood said.

In a letter to editor in July, Inwood said "during its entire period of operating in New Zealand, Sajo Oyang, its officers and crew and representatives have never been the subject of a prosecution.

"That is a rare accomplishment in an industry as highly regulated as the New Zealand fishing industry and speaks volumes as to the level of commitment that both companies have to compliance with New Zealand fisheries laws.  "Even some of New Zealand's largest fishing companies cannot boast of a compliance record to this standard," Inwood said.

Oyang 75 was last known to be in the Seychelles.