16 Sep 2020
Operators of a trawler that sank off the coast of Canterbury with the loss of the three fishermen on board were ordered today to pay surviving family members more than $ 700,000.
The 90-ton, 16m fishing vessel Jubilee sank after sending a distress signal in the early hours of October 18, 2015.
The three very experienced fishermen on board – Jared Reese Husband, 47, from Timaru, skipper Paul Russell Bennett, 35, from Motueka, and Terry Donald Booth, 55, also from the Nelson area – were lost at sea. .
Jared Reese Mari, 47, of Timaru died in the sinking of the Jubilee in October 2015. Photo / Supplied
Their bodies were then recovered by Royal New Zealand Navy divers 22 km from the mouth of the Rakaia River.
Maritime New Zealand has taken legal action against the operators of the Jubilee, Ocean Fisheries Limited.
The Lyttelton-based company, of which Andrew Stark is the chief executive, has previously pleaded guilty to a charge, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1992, of failing to take all possible measures to ensure that no contractor has been injured while performing any work the contractor has been engaged to do. The charge carries a maximum penalty of $ 250,000.
At Christchurch District Court this afternoon, family members were in court listening via an electronic connection to Judge Tony Couch who said he hoped today would end a long and stressful process.
In his reserved conviction decision, Couch J. awarded a total compensation of $ 230,325.25 for economic loss to the surviving family members.
The information on who received what was deleted by the judge to avoid any additional stress for them. These are 19 people who in each case lost a close family member.
Eleven surviving victims each received an additional compensation for moral injury amounting to $ 505,000.
The company was also fined $ 46,000, bringing the total penalty to $ 781,325.25.
“The total sentence imposed must be proportionate to the circumstances of the offense and the offender,” Justice Couch said.
“I am told the repair will be paid for by insurance and understand that the basis for the resolution reached earlier this year includes a commitment by the Stark family to pay the fine.”
A map included in the TAIC report that shows the approximate location of the sinking of the ship.
A Transportation Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) investigation concluded the sinking was likely due to a hose left running – and the men had been trapped inside the wheelhouse with no escape routes.
The Messenger earlier revealed that the three crew members could have slept just before the sinking – and if one of them had been on duty that night, they should have fallen asleep.
The FV Jubilee – designed and built by Stark Bros. Limited of Lyttelton and operated by Ocean Fisheries Ltd, another family business wholly owned by Stark and launched in 2008 – had fished in an area southwest of the Banks Peninsula for about two days after sailing from Lyttelton.
They had spent a day fishing near another Ocean Fisheries Limited vessel, the Legacy.
The father of three, Bennett, contacted the skipper of Legacy and told him that since the fishing was not good he was going to head out to shore and try flatfish overnight.
Divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy were brought in to help locate the Jubilee and her crew after the sinking.
But just after midnight on October 18, 2015, Bennett changed his mind and said they were going to “park for the night”, adrift – with a southwesterly wind of 25 to 30 knots with little swell. significant – while they rested. The Legacy continued to fish while heading south.
At around 4:19 a.m., someone on board the Jubilee attempted to contact the Legacy using the ship’s cell phone – but the call was not answered.
A minute later, Bennett made a distress call on the VHF security and call radio channel saying the Jubilee was taking on water and sinking.
The call was immediately answered by Akaroa Maritime Radio, who requested information on the number of people on board and on the assistance required.
Bennett reiterated the position of the ship and said they were “getting off and getting on the life raft now”.
At 4:22 a.m. Akaroa Maritime Radio made a Mayday relay call – immediately answered by the skipper of the Legacy who believed she was the only vessel in the area and was about 26 nautical miles (48 km) away.
It was dawn before the Legacy arrived at the Mayday position. The large container ship Lica Maersk had already stopped to help.
The Legacy crew found an oil slick, wreckage, and the empty Jubilee life raft, which had self-deployed.
A thorough aerial and maritime search did not find any member of the crew.
The wreck of the Jubilee was discovered on the seabed later that same day.
A few days later, divers positively identified the wreckage and the bodies of the three crew members were recovered in the wheelhouse.