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Substantial prosecutions for breaking undersea cable protection rules

The Ministry of Transport is urging boat users not to fish or anchor in cable protection areas (commonly known as Cable Protection Zones or CPZs) if they want to avoid the risk of prosecution.

In recent months the Ministry has prosecuted those responsible for three vessels fishing in the Cook Strait CPZ, one of the 11 CPZs around New Zealand.

The master of commercial cray fishing vessel ‘Crossfire’ was recently convicted and fined $20,000, plus legal and court costs. In November a master and a co-owner of a recreational yacht were sentenced after pleading guilty to fishing in the Cook Strait CPZ earlier this year, resulting in fines totalling $2,500, in addition to legal and court costs. The master of another recreational craft is due to be sentenced on 13 December 2010 following a conviction for also fishing in the Cook Strait CPZ.

“We work closely with cable operators and owners, such as Transpower, Telecom and Southern Cross Cables, to protect the cables and actively prosecute offenders,” says Bruce Johnson, General Manager of the Ministry’s Aviation and Maritime group. “We hope these prosecutions send a strong message to commercial boat users, especially fishers, not to break the rules for fishing or anchoring in areas where undersea pipelines or cables are present.”

CPZs are patrolled 24/7 in some cases by ship and helicopters, manned by protection officers and Maritime Police, so offenders run a high risk of being caught.

Submarine cables and pipelines are vital to New Zealand’s power and communications systems as they carry our electricity, telecommunications and energy resources, such as oil and gas.

Any damage can have a significant impact on our economy by causing power cuts and telecommunications service outages, which are expensive and time-consuming to repair.

“This summer we urge all boat users to pay attention to the protected areas and be mindful of the rules when in a CPZ. Protecting these cables is in everyone’s best interests.”

For more information, visit the Ministry’s website www.transport.govt.nz or call O800 THE GRID.

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