A Hamilton fishing company and its skipper have been busted by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) after its boat was spotted fishing more than 200 nautical miles, or 370km, further off the coast than it should have.

W C Seafoods, which is in liquidation, was convicted and discharged on Friday in Hamilton District Court after admitting two charges of allowing a skipper, who did not hold the appropriate maritime qualification, to operate its commercial fishing vessel, Marine Star II, in October 2009.

Marine Star II was photographed more than 300nm, or 555km, out to sea by the Royal New Zealand Air Force during a joint investigation into non-compliant operators. It was only permitted to operate out to 100nm, or 185km.

It was then discovered the skipper, David James Abbott, only held an Inshore Launch Master's certificate, which allowed him to operate vessels up to 20m in length within 22km of the coast.

Abbott was convicted and fined $2000 after admitting charges of operating the ship without holding an appropriate qualification and outside the specified safety limits.

MNZ spokeswoman Sharyn Forsyth said that on top of the obvious safety concerns, the company and skipper had showed contempt for all the other commercial operators who operated within the law.

- NZPA