13 Jun 2012

Fisheries official feared for safety on ship, court hears

8:05 pm on 13 June 2012

A Ministry of Fisheries observer has told a court she feared for her safety while on board Korean-owned vessel Oyang 75 whose officers are accused of illegally dumping fish.

Wongeun Kang, Juncheol Lee, Minsu Park, Tae Jo and Chong Yun are accused of illegally dumping up to 1000 tonnes of fish subject to New Zealand quota, valued at almost $1.3 million, during two trips to New Zealand waters.

The Korean officers are also accused of making false statements. They have failed to appear at Christchurch District Court.

Ministry observer Lisa Dyer told the court on Wednesday she was on the boat for about a month and felt intimidated by the officers on several occasions after pulling them up for illegally dumping fish such as hoki and ling.

Ms Dyer said the situation escalated to a point where she felt her personal safety would be at risk if she continued to confront the officers.

She said one officer was often drunk while on duty and recalled seeing officers hitting and forcibly throwing fish at crew.

Ms Dyer said the dumping of excess fish could have been avoided if the captain had chosen to tow the net for a shorter period time and pulled in less fish.