Ponant fined for breaching protocol
PONANT has been ordered to pay a fine of NZ$70,000 by the Wellington District Court for entering a prohibited zone off the coast of New Zealand’s Snares Islands and failing to follow proper safety procedures.
The cruise line pleaded guilty to the charge of “causing unnecessary danger or risk to the people on board” under the NZ Maritime Transport Act 1994, following an incident in Jan last year which saw L’Austral become grounded on uncharted rocks.
The summaries of fact stated L’Austral had insufficient “passage plans” available and also failed to monitor hazards in its proximity effectively, resulting in the vessel’s hull being punctured in three places.
The ship’s Captain Regis Daumesnil was also fined NZ$30,000 for his role in the incident, after he elected to continue sailing to the scheduled cruise destination 285km south after striking the rocks, instead of heading to the closest port.
L’Austral was also found to have entered an environmental exclusion zone during the sailing, prompting the New Zealand Department of Conservation to join the investigation.
In handing down its final decision, the court said Ponant’s good safety record and guilty plea reduced the scale of the penalty.
There were 356 passengers and crew on board at the time of the incident.
Ponant was not able to make a comment on the penalty before Cruise Weekly’s deadline today.
Ho Ho Bay in the Snares Islands.