Big bond secures freedom

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014

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A $150,000 bond has been paid to allow Lake Triview crew members to depart from Port Taranaki.

Three crew, the ship's owner and operator have all been charged under the Resource Management Act that they most likely damaged the protected Waiwhakaiho Reef off New Plymouth as a result of the grounding of the vessel last month.

The ship, Singapore-flagged and Canadian-owned, dragged its anchor and went aground on the reef on May 25 where its hull was holed.

On Wednesday, the ship's captain, Rolando Legaspi, his chief officer, Romelito De Asis, and able seaman Mark Aldrin Galapo, who was the lookout on the night, were charged with disturbing the Waiwhakaiho Reef which was likely to have an adverse effect.

The ship's owner, Tri View Canada, and operator, Fairmont Shipping Ltd Canada, were charged yesterday with contravening the act by permitting the grounding of the vessel on the reef.

The reef is protected under the region's coastal plan.

The owner and operator are charged with offences which carry maximum penalties of $600,000.

The charges faced by the crew carry a maximum two-year jail sentence and $300,000 fines.

Yesterday morning the three crew appeared in the New Plymouth District Court.

Andrew Laurenson, the lawyer representing all the defendants, said the ship's agent, Phoenix Shipping Agencies Ltd, offered $150,000 as a surety that the men would return to New Zealand for future court hearings.

The Taranaki Regional Council, represented by Andrew Britton, did not want to restrain the vessel going about its business.

Laurenson asked that the three men, who were essential crew members, be allowed to return to the ship which was due to leave at 6pm yesterday.

"They cannot leave without the three gentlemen on board," Laurenson said.

Judge Geoffrey Ellis remanded the three crew to reappear in the New Plymouth District Court on August 7 following full disclosure.

A plea would be expected at that time.

However the judge said he did not have jurisdiction to hear the surety application.

With that, a High Court judge, Justice Paul Heath, through a video link, heard the application and allowed the three crewmen to leave New Zealand waters on condition the ship's agents posted the bank bond of $150,000 by 4pm yesterday.

If that did not happen, the three men were to hand over their passports and remain in New Zealand, he said.

"There is no impediment to the vessel leaving Port Taranaki this evening," the High Court judge said.

In a media release yesterday, TRC chief executive Basic Chamberlain backed the prosecution.

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"The reason for this prosecution by the Taranaki Regional Council is that it takes very seriously its obligations to protect Taranaki's coastal environment and enforcement action will follow where appropriate standards appear not to have been met."

The investigation into the grounding and effects on the reef are continuing.

- Taranaki Daily News

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