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