Published on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cruise company fined for 'careless' grounding in Antarctic waters

French small ship expedition line Ponant has been hit with a six-figure fine in New Zealand after a ship grounded on rocks in protected sub-Antarctic waters.

The L'Austral ship, carrying 356 passengers, hit the submerged rock near the Snares Islands south of New Zealand after it ventured too close to the islands.

It violated its permit to sail there after coming within 300 metres of the islands.

Both the company and captain pleaded guilty under the Resource Management Act.

Ponant was fined $70,000 and captain Regis Daumesnil must pay $30,000.

Daumesnil has been with the company for 23 years.

Environment Court judge Craig Thompson said there was little damage caused to the vessel and no major environmental impact beyond hitting the rock.

However the crew's actions were described as careless.  

"It is a highly sensitive environment with protections in place."

The judge said the ship and its occupants were not in any actual danger but it took unnecessary risks.

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