Fishing company Sanford reported an 8 per cent decline in first-half operating earnings after the death of a crew member kept one of its deep water vessels in port for three months.

The company today reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of $32.6 million for the six months ended March 31, down from $35.4m the year before. The figures exclude restructuring costs and a $9.9m insurance settlement in the 2018 period.

Net profit was $22.9m, including a $4.1m gain on the sale of quota, and was down 16 per cent from the year earlier figure including the insurance gain. Revenue of $265m was down almost 3 per cent.

Chief executive Volker Kuntzsch said the sad death of Steffan Stewart on the San Granit in November had a big impact across the Sanford "family" and was also reflected in the firm's result.


"We undertook an extensive review of all factory equipment and processes with a view to trying to identify further ways of mitigating potential health and safety risks. The Granit remained in port for three months, which impacted on our catches and subsequently on our financial result."

Sanford's total catch and harvest volume was down 13 per cent at 55,000 tonnes.

Its wild catch was down 14 per cent at about 38,000 tonnes, due to the San Granit outage and other fleet constraints. Wild catch revenue fell 5 per cent and Sanford estimated the San Granit outage reduced earnings by about $4.1m.

Mussel volumes were down 2 per cent but sales revenue was up 10 per cent. Salmon volumes rose 13 per cent and revenue was 20 per cent higher.

Sanford said that, despite the challenges in the period, the firm's focus on getting more value from its fish saw earnings per kilogram rise a cent to 57 cents. That would have been about 61c/kg had the San Granit been available throughout the period.

The company will pay a 9 cent interim dividend, unchanged from a year earlier, on June 14 to shareholders registered at June 7.

The shares were unchanged at $6.78 shortly after the market opened and have gained 2.7 per cent so far this year.