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US Justice Dept set to release Sanford fishing vessel in Pago Pago

Friday 16th December 2011

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Sanford, the fishing company indicted by the US coastguard over alleged polluting by the San Nikunau working out of American Samoa, has reached agreement for the release of the tuna fishing vessel.

Sanford faces seven charges including obstruction of justice relating the boat after an investigation by the US Coast Guard which it has vowed to fight “vigorously”.

The agreement requires Sanford to post a bond of US$1 million to cover potential fines or penalties and for the company to make the crew available as witnesses at the hearings, said Eric Barratt, managing director, in a statement to the NZX.

The company will continue to defend the charges and expects the case to come to trial early in 2012, Barratt said.

The vessel, one of three large-scale freezer tuna purse seiners operated by Sanford in the Pacific, will resume fishing for skipjack tuna, which is sold to two canneries in Pago Pago, after the deal with the US Justice Department.

The San Nikunau is one of two Sanford vessels detained in American Samoa, with the San Nanumea held over injury claims from current and former crew, the company said last month.

Sanford shares jumped as much as 4 percent after the announcement and were recently up 0.5 percent to $3.87.


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