New Zealand needs to increase penalties for substandard fishing practice, the Green Party says following the conviction of a New Zealand fishing company in America for dumping oil waste at sea.
A federal jury in Washington found that a Sanford Limited tuna fishing vessel, the San Nikunau, discharged oil waste into the sea around American Samoa following a US Coast Guard investigation which commenced in July last year.
Following a two-week trial in the US Federal District Court in Washington DC, Auckland-based Sanford was found guilty of dumping the waste but not guilty of an obstruction charge.
The company could be fined up to $NZ3.7 million ($US3 million) and will be sentenced in November.
An employee was also found guilty of another obstruction charge of falsifying records.
Green Party fisheries spokesman Steffan Browning said New Zealand fines were typically ten times less than what Sanford could receive in the US.
"If we are serious about protecting our clean green brand and our treasured environment we need to toughen up."
New Zealand's clean green brand could not risk not having observers on all New Zealand fishing vessels, especially considering this case involved falsifying records.
"The Government has committed to 100 per cent observers on Foreign Charter Vessels while they are phased out.
"This highlights the need for comprehensive observer coverage on New Zealand flagged vessels," he said.