Trawler to stay put until fees paid

Last updated 05:00 25/05/2013

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Port Taranaki has refused to allow the departure of the trawler Sparta after it amassed almost $300,000 in towing and port fees.

The 48-metre Russian-owned Sparta has been accruing port charges for two months since it was tied up alongside the Breakwater Wharf waiting for engine repairs after breaking down off North Cape at the end of March.

Port Taranaki's most powerful tug, the Tuakana, was dispatched to tow the 48-metre Sparta back to New Plymouth, arriving in port on April 2.

Yesterday Port Taranaki harbourmaster John Ireland confirmed a stay of departure had been handed over to the crew on the vessel yesterday afternoon.

"We are putting a lien on it," Mr Ireland said.

A lien is described as the right to retain the lawful possession of the property of another until the owner fulfils a legal duty to the person holding the property, such as the payment of lawful charges for work done on the property.

Mr Ireland declined to say how much the owners now owed the port, citing commercial sensitivity. However the Taranaki Daily News believes the amount is close to $300,000.

"It's nearing the end of completion and there are some outstanding monies to be paid and we want to ensure we get our monies before it leaves," Mr Ireland said.

Police Sergeant Shane Hurliman said he assisted port authorities and Customs to serve a writ to the captain and shipping agent yesterday. "There was no drama. the ship's captain and agent knew what was coming," he said. The writ had the effect of not allowing the vessel to leave before port charges were met, Mr Hurliman said.

The Sparta, believed to be under contract to a United States company, was on its way to Fiji when it broke down.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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