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Govt seeking return of Korean trawler

Monday 25 Jun 2012 5:05 p.m.

Five members of the Oyang 75 crew face fines for illegally dumping fish (file)

Five members of the Oyang 75 crew face fines for illegally dumping fish (file)

Government agencies are taking steps to have a modern Korean fishing trawler worth about $10 million returned to New Zealand after five of its crew were found guilty of fishing offences.

Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) officials are contacting the Sajo Oyang Corporation, which owns the 68-metre Oyang 75, after a judge in Christchurch District Court last week ruled against the men.

The master Chong Pil Yun, 41, deck bosun, Wongeun Kang, 42, radio operator Juncheol Lee, 36, chief officer, Minsu Park, 41, and factory manager Tae Won Jo, 51, will be sentenced in September.

They face fines of up to $250,000 after throwing 405 tonnes of low-value fish, still worth as much as $1.4 million, overboard and not reporting it.

Under international law foreign fishing crew cannot be kept in prison and because the penalties under fishing laws do not include prison sentences, they could not be extradited.

They were not present for the hearing and it is highly unlikely they will return as a number of abuse allegations were levelled against them by the Indonesian crew.

MPI prosecutor Grant Fletcher told NZ Newswire officials were in the process of contacting Sajo Oyang and having the ship returned to New Zealand.

The Oyang 75 is still fishing in international waters, but the Government holds a bond on the ship.

Mr Fletcher would not say how much the bond was worth as it was commercially sensitive, but that in seeking to have the ship returned, or cash in lieu, the Government would use all mechanisms available for recovery.

Meanwhile, MPI has seized another Oyang ship, the Oyang 77 berthed at Lyttelton, and charged its captain and factory manager with illegal dumping and misreporting the vessel's catch.

They are also charged with failing to declare the catch of a basking shark.

They will appear in Christchurch District Court on July 5.

NZN

 

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