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Commercial fishing vessel fined for diesel discharge at Hobart Port

05 October 2017

The master and operator of a commercial fishing vessel were fined a total of $45,000 plus court costs in the Hobart Magistrates Court today for the unlawful discharge of diesel into the River Derwent in November 2015.

Australian Longline Pty Ltd was prosecuted under the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1987 for discharging diesel fuel into State waters.

The Director of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Mr Wes Ford said that he welcomed the Magistrate’s decision and hoped that the fine, which is the largest single penalty of its kind imposed in Tasmania to date, would encourage people to take greater care in preventing such pollution incidents.

“The significant sentencing today sends a clear message that polluting the environment – under any circumstances – is unacceptable and that action will be taken to prosecute offenders,” said Mr Ford.

“It serves as an important reminder to the commercial fishing industry, and the community, that people must be vigilant and understand the law regarding environmental pollution,” he said.

Approximately 400L of diesel fuel was accidentally discharged from the vessel ‘Janas’, during refuelling in Hobart Port at Macquarie Wharf No 3 on 5 November 2015. The vessel is operated by Australian Longline for commercial fishing operations.

The incident occurred due to human error when the Chief Engineer failed to check a fuel valve and the crew failed to ensure that a bung in the ‘save all’ was in place during the refuelling. The diesel spill extended for about 3-400m from the vessel, and no environmental harm was recorded as a result.

Magistrate Cooper acknowledged that the Janas crew responded promptly to the incident and cooperated with the investigation. In sentencing, he also acknowledged that both the company and the master had been charged and were required to pay court costs in addition to the fine.