Commercial vessels warned against operating without valid certificates of survey

12 January 2022

The importance of a commercial fishing vessel having a valid certificate of survey before beginning operations has been highlighted in a recent court finding.

The vessel, Northern Odyssey, was imported by The Tuna Fishing Company from Fiji into New Zealand on 1 January 2020.

A certificate of survey for the vessel was issued on 15 June 2020.

However, before the certificate of survey was issued, the company decided to use the vessel for commercial fishing activity, over several weeks, off the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty and East Cape of the North Island.

Maritime NZ took a prosecution against The Tuna Fishing Company, a Whitianga-based commercial fishing company, under the Maritime Transport Act (1994).

The company pleaded guilty to the charge, and was sentenced in the Thames District Court on 11 January 2022.

Having a valid certificate of survey to ensure vessels meet New Zealand safety standards is a requirement of an operator’s Maritime Transport Operator Certificate (MTOC).  Any commercial gain made while a vessel is being operated with a certificate of survey is illegal.

Michael-Paul Abbott, Maritime NZ’s previous Compliance Manager – Central Region says commercial operators must always have a certificate of survey issued that meets New Zealand safety standards before operating a vessel.

“This company clearly knew the rules and chose to break them for commercial gain.

“The incident sends a serious message to commercial operators that the Maritime Transport Act must be adhered to at all times.

“Commercial operators are responsible for ensuring they follow the legislation to ensure safe work practices,” he says.

The Tuna Fishing Company Ltd was fined $6,500 for operating a commercial vessel before its certificate of survey was issued.

It was also ordered to pay costs of $668.56 to Maritime NZ and court costs of $130.

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