THE owner of a dilapidated barge operating in Sydney’s Pittwater despite a prohibition by authorities, was convicted and fined $5500 in Sydney Magistrates Court last week.

Marine safety inspectors from Transport for NSW, acting on behalf of AMSA, issued the barge’s owner, Pittwater Enterprises, with a prohibition notice in May 2017.

At the time, the barge, operating in the Pittwater area, lacked structural and watertight integrity which placed it at serious risk of sinking, posing a threat to the marine environment and safety of mariners.

Marine safety inspectors caught Pittwater Enterprises operating the barge one year later without having made improvements to the dilapidated barge and despite the prohibition notice which still applied to its operation.

AMSA issued an infringement to the company for breaching the prohibition notice, which went unpaid. AMSA subsequently charged the company with breaching a prohibition notice under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012.

AMSA general manager operations Allan Schwartz said the breach was a serious concern.

“A prohibition notice isn’t just a piece of paper. If a marine safety inspector has issued a commercial vessel like a barge with a prohibition notice, it’s for good reason,” Mr Schwartz said.

“In this case, the barge owned by Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd represented a very real threat to the marine environment and safety of mariners in Pittwater.”

Mr Schwartz said ignoring the prohibition notice, failing to make any safety improvements to the barge and then deliberately deciding to operate it inside a busy harbour shows a level of recklessness that AMSA won’t accept.

“The owners of commercial vessels have a legal obligation to ensure their vessels can be operated safely and don’t place either the marine environment or people at risk of serious harm,” he said.

“Failure to comply with that duty is costly, as evidenced by this outcome for Pittwater Enterprises Pty Ltd – a conviction may have lasting consequences.”