Skipper fined for grounding

A trawler skipper has been fined $2000 for the grounding that left The Lady Sarah wrecked on Kaitorete Spit in December 2016.

The 22m vessel was a total loss. It remained on the shingle shore near Lake Ellesmere for two weeks before it was broken into pieces and moved to a contractor’s yard.

Skipper Christopher Lee Jarman, 35, who was also an owner of the vessel, pleaded guilty in March to a charge of failing to ensure a proper look-out was kept, which caused unnecessary risk to the vessel and crew.

The prosecution was brought in the Christchurch District Court by Maritime New Zealand.

At Jarman’s sentencing today, prosecutor Rosie Kos said the incident had led to Jarman and two crew leaving the vessel into the water, in the dark, in a swell. “There was potential for injury or loss of life,” she told Judge Raoul Neave.

Defence counsel Peter Dawson said the accident had happened on a calm night when Jarman knew there were no other vessels in the area. Jarman had been fishing for 23 years without incident and was well regarded by his peers.

“He is seen as a young, up-and-coming fisherman who has learned from the events that unfolded on that fateful night,” he said.

Judge Neave said Jarman had clearly allowed himself to be distracted while the vessel did three or four tows off Birdlings Flat, before the grounding.

He was in significant dereliction of his duty to keep a proper look out. His lack of attention had been sporadic but was “not in line with the high obligations placed on a master”.

In imposing the fine of $2000 he took into account Jarman’s good record and the financial impact of the loss of the vessel.

There was no suggestion that Jarman was anything other than a safe and careful trawlerman and he believed it would be an excessive reaction if the authorities took action against him as a holder of an inshore launchmaster certificate.

However, that was not determination he was required to make, said the judge, noting that he regarded the offence as being at the lower end of the scale.

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