The skipper of a fishing trawler that ran aground at a Canterbury lake has today admitted he failed to keep a proper lookout.

Christopher Lee Jarman, 35, pleaded guilty to the charge brought by Maritime New Zealand at Christchurch District Court this afternoon.

The 129-tonne fishing vessel, Lady Sarah, was grounded at Kaitorete Spit, near the mouth to Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury's largest lake, on December 15, 2016.

It took more than two weeks to remove the damaged 22m trawler.

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Today, Jarman admitted a charge that as a holder of an inshore Launchmaster Certificate and as master of the Lady Sarah, he failed to ensure that a proper lookout was kept at all times as required under maritime law.

The charge states that such an omission "caused unnecessary danger or risk to other persons or property including the crew".

A health and safety charge was withdrawn.

Jarman will be sentenced on May 11.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail or a maximum $10,000 fine.