Owen Hembry

Owen Hembry is the business news editor of the New Zealand Herald

Sanford fishing boat detained in American Samoa

Sanford managing director Eric Barratt said San Nikunau was probably worth $20 million-$25 million and had been detained since July. File photo / Dean Purcell
Sanford managing director Eric Barratt said San Nikunau was probably worth $20 million-$25 million and had been detained since July. File photo / Dean Purcell

A multimillion-dollar Sanford vessel has been detained by United States authorities in American Samoa's capital, Pago Pago, says the fishing company.

Managing director Eric Barratt said the San Nikunau was probably worth $20 million-$25 million and had been detained since July after allegations it failed to properly document oily water discharges.

"We have confidence that we have not incurred anything or done anything that they allege is improper but we have a great deal of difficulty persuading them of that," Barratt said.

"The most imperative issue for us is getting the vessel released to go fishing and that's what we're focused on at the moment."

NZX-listed Sanford expects the vessel to be released shortly.

Another vessel - the San Nanumea - was detained in Pago Pago by American Samoan authorities for legal issues related to injury claims from a number of current and former crew but was released under bond after a few weeks, with the claims being dealt with through lawyers appointed by the company's insurers.

The legal costs of investigations and defending any charges were covered by insurance and the company provided in the latest accounts for any costs that might not be covered, although the amount was not specified.

Sanford's net profit for the year ended September 30 was $22.3 million, compared with $25 million the previous year, with revenue of $464 million up from $421.1 million.

The result was similar to the previous year when taking into account a one-off gain of $3.4 million included last year for the sale of emissions trading scheme units, Sanford said.

The New Zealand dollar had averaged the equivalent of US82c for the second six months of the year which, compared with US76c for the first half, resulted in about $11 million of lost earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda), the company said.

A 1c easing in the New Zealand dollar exchange rate added about $2 million to ebitda, it said.

The easing to below US75c, coupled with forward cover and options now in place, locked more than 65 per cent of expected US dollar receipts in the coming year, Sanford said.

"We've learned to live with it at higher levels but when it hits US85c it's just about impossible," Barratt said.

Fuel costs for the year had increased by $6.5 million.

"Since the end of the year it's eased off a bit so that's encouraging."

Sanford said fuel prices would continue to be a challenge but with likely stability in market pricing for many of the company's main species, it was optimistic profitability would be closer to acceptable levels in the next year.

Shares in Sanford were steady yesterday at $4.40.

- NZ Herald

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