Sanford fined $2.3m for dumping oil waste at sea

A US court today fined New Zealand fishing company Sanford almost $2.3 million for dumping oil waste in waters off American Samoa.

The company was sentenced in a US Federal Court in Washington this morning after being convicted in a two-week trial in August last year over an incident involving its tuna fishing vessel, the San Nikunau.

Besides the $US1.9m fine, the court has also ordered the company to pay a $US500,000 Community Service Payment to the National Fisheries Foundation.

A probationary period of three years has been set, meaning its the Sanford fleet cannot enter US ports or fish in American waters during this time.

Managing director Eric Barratt says the company accepts the judgment and will now concentrate on improving overall environmental compliance.

Mr Barratt had vowed to vigorously defend the charges brought by the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and the US Department of Justice and appeared in person to give testimony.

However, the company was found guilty on six of seven counts relating to failure to properly maintain the San Nikunau’s oil record book and the obstruction of port state control inspections by the US Coast Guard.

The case stemmed from a Coast Guard investigation in American Samoa last year.

Sanford operates three large-scale freezer tuna purse seiners in the Pacific. The San Nikunau’s catch was processed in Pago Pago.

The company has 10 days to appeal the sentence.

- Additional reporting: BusinessDesk

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14 Comments & Questions

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Disgusting and shameful. This company is wrecking NZ's environmental aspirations with international publicity.

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Rena was fined $NZ300,000. Our country has no balls.

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Why would Sanford WANT to dump oil at sea? Are they lazy? Where is this oil from?

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If only NZ had a justice system then maybe we'd start seeing the same kind of accountability here. Good on the US government sending a clear message that his won't be tolerated in their jurisdiction. Disgusting that the NZ authorities sit by and allow a NZ company vessel to behave like this abroad. 100% Pure ... whatever!!!

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#1-4 have clearly never been to American Samoa. If only you knew. They did not cause any damage, and did far less than the American flag ships do daily.

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Dumping oil waste any where in the sea is No excuse #5 John. There are laws put in place for greedy and selfish companies like Sanford not to dump their waste where they feel like it. You stated that 'they did not cause any damage'. How the heck do you know that when you said you never been there? Clearly, you have no idea what damages oil can do to the ocean and sea life. And to Sanford - shame on you. I won't be buying any more of your product.

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I said "They have never been there". I have, and was there at the time.

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But is this dumping company policy? That's what we need to consider.
If the crew were obeying company rules then the fine is far too small!
However, if that action was/is totally against company instructions then at least they - Sandfords - have manned up and done the decent thing without trying to dodge responsibility.
As a company director (private), I know that whatever happens we have to pay the bill if the staff let us down, but the actions would not have been of our making. But still, ultimately, our problem. Same with Sandfords.
As with every situation in life, some people are honest and reliable, etc, while others are not. Good bosses and good employees. There are also bad ones in each category. Sad, but true.

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I think a lot of Kiwis are getting sick and tired with how people, as well as companies, treat our oceans. From rubbish left on pristine Northland beaches, and undersized recreational catches, to bad ocean fishing techniques, commercial fishing out of zone, the likes of Rena, etc.

I am not a "greeny", but we all need to do more to protect our ocean!

I would like some more facts on this case. But meantime I am boycotting Sanfords products.

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Great Jim-e,
Actually, why don't all of us who worry about how the earth and its oceans are being treated make a start by boycotting Sandfords products until they tell us what their policy re dumping waste oil was at the time of the offence? If they won't, what will that tell us? How about it, everyone?

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Who is chairman of Sanford and president of the National Party? One and the same, Peter Goodfellow.

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OMG. Is this really true? I haven't checked. Just trust you - for now, anyway. Come on then Peter Goodfellow. Be one!
Tell us the waste oil dumping policy at time of offence as requested earlier. If not, why not?

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Mr Anonymous #1 5 hours ago (4.58pm) - you were not correct.
I have researched and learned that Mr Jeff Todd "was appointed less than two weeks ago after the death of Charman Bruce Cole after a brief illness" Released by Sanfords on 25th May, 2011. Yip, 2011.
My apologies to Mr Goodfellow. This was obviously a political stunt. Your naming I mean, of course, by Mr Anonymous. Sorry.
So let's get back to truth chasing. TRUTH, please, Sanfords.
Come on people - don't let apathy reign.

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What's up folks?
Who could dislike Just Me's comment?
Don't we want the truth here? Well?

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