Wellington fishing company Albacore Fisheries has been fined $12,000 for fishing without a safety certificate, which Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said followed "wilful and systematic offending".
In the Wellington District Court today, Albacore pleaded guilty to a charge laid by MNZ of operating a ship without the proper document during 38 fishing trips by the Star of the Sea between February and May last year.
Albacore is 100 per cent-owned by Antonio Muollo. The Muollo family have fished out of Wellington for 90 years.
Albacore is not connected to Tony Muollo, 48, who said his company Deep Blue Seafoods NZ and all his boats had a "perfect track record" with Maritime New Zealand.
The younger Tony Muollo runs about four or five boats, but had no involvement in his uncle's business. The elder Muollo declined to comment.
MNZ said catch returns showed the Star of the Sea was operating as a commercial fishing boat on each trip.
The boat's safe ship management (SSM) certificate expired in October 2012. After a survey, the boat was found to need better fire extinguishers, a liferaft certificate and two extra rocket parachute flares.
The Star of the Sea kept operating without a certificate.
MNZ maritime compliance general manager Harry Hawthorn said operators must make safety a priority.
"It is imperative that vessel operators are meeting their obligations in terms of safety," he said.
"The maritime environment is a high-risk place to work and there is no excuse for not following the rules that are designed to ensure those working in the industry get home safely.
"This sentence should send a strong message to all operators that Maritime New Zealand will not tolerate such wilful and systematic offending."