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Verdict On Sanford's Penalty Expected Today New Zealand, January 11, 13

One of New Zealand's biggest fishing firms may face a US$3 million (NZ$3.6m) fine and a ban from American ports tomorrow.

This follows a Washington D C court convicting the company of pollution and obstruction of justice. Last year, listed company Sanford was found guilty in the United States District Court of seven charges relating to the running of its tuna boat, San Nikunau, in American Samoan waters in July, 2011.

Sanford told Judge Beryl Howell the company should be fined no more than US$450,000.

In submissions, the US Government said Sanford had caused harm to the marine environment in American Samoa. It called for the near-maximum fine, "because it is reasonable that the fine disgorge some amount of profit from defendant Sanford Ltd".

It also wants Sanford put on five years probation, with all its boats banned from American ports.

If imposed, this would hit its Pacific business, as Pago Pago is a big tuna-canning port.

In its submission to the judge, Sanford, whose directors include National Party president Peter Goodfellow, said the court should recognise the company "has been a corporate leader in New Zealand in the development and implementation of sustainability practices".