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French cruise company Ponant has been fined $70,000 in New Zealand after an expedition cruise with 356 passengers aboard breached its navigation permit and ran aground on protected subantarctic waters.
The vessel was at the crossover crossing, as it hit a submerged rock as it got too close to the Snares Islands, south of New Zealand. The ship thus failed to comply with its permission to sail, since it maintained a distance of only 300 meters from the islands.
Both the company and the captain of the ship pleaded guilty under the Law of Resource Management. Ponant was fined $70,000, while the captain, Regis Daumesnil, was fined $30,000. Daumesnil has been working for the cruise ship operator for 23 years.
The judge of the Environmental Court that handled the case, Craig Thompson, confessed that the ship did not suffer great damages, as well as that the collision did not generate any important environmental impact.
However, he described the actions of the crew as careless, not taking the necessary precautions in “a highly sensitive environment that is protected.”