Five Korean officers on the Oyang 75 fishing vessel have been found guilty of aiding the dumping of more than 400 tonnes of New Zealand quota fish during two trips off the South Island last year.
The officers failed to appear on Friday in the Christchurch District Court, where evidence has been heard over the past two weeks.
Judge David Saunders ordered the vessel be forfeited, as it is now the property of the Crown.
The prosecuting lawyer, Grant Fletcher, says the verdict is still significant despite the fact that the guilty men are out of the country.
"Well it's still a significant thing because what the judge's decision means is that the fishing vessel, the Oyang 75, is now forfeit to the Crown and is in fact Crown property."
Mr Fletcher says a payment in lieu of the vessel can be made if the owners do not want to give it up.
Sentencing is scheduled for 21 September.
It is believed to be one of the largest cases of fish dumping in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the Ministry for Primary Industries has seized another Oyang vessel.
The ministry says the captain and factory manager on the Oyang 77 are charged with illegal fish dumping.
They are also charged with failing to declare the catch of a basking shark and making false returns - or mis-reporting the vessel's catch.
They have a total of eleven charges against them.
The ministry says the two men are due to appear in court next month.