9 Mar 2013

Captain blamed for Oyang 70 sinking

6:07 am on 9 March 2013

A coroner's report has blamed the captain for the sinking of a Korean fishing boat in which six people died.

The Oyang 70 sank off the coast of Dunedin in August 2010 as the crew struggled to haul in more than 120 tonnes of fish in New Zealand economic waters.

An unstable boat, a captain who failed to act in a professional manner, and a poor safety culture all led to the sinking of the trawler.

In his report released on Friday, Coroner Richard McElrea criticised the actions of Captain Hyoniki Shin, who was killed.

Mr McElrea said the boat was not run in an orderly fashion, and Mr Shin failed to ensure that emergency procedures were understood by crew members or to carry out any form of abandon-ship training.

He also cites open watertight doors, chutes and hatches and leaking hoses on the vessel which all contributed to the sinking.

Mr McElrea said the rules Maritime New Zealand uses to manage ship safety are poorly formulated and the limited jurisdiction New Zealand has over foreign charter vessels for ascertaining seaworthiness was a factor in the sinking.

Maritime New Zealand says the situation will improve with the new Maritime Operator Safety System to be introduced next year that includes a requirement that a crew can safely sail a ship in New Zealand conditions.

The lawyer representing the families of five Indonesian fishermen who died says the coroner's report shows an appalling working culture aboard.

Craig Tuck told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday he is not surprised by the findings, saying it was an 'us and them culture' on the boat, extremely dangerous in many ways with no real safety training.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said on Friday that legislation before Parliament will address the issues highlighted in the coroner's report.

The legislation would make it compulsory for all foreign fishing vessels to be registered as a New Zealand vessel, meaning it would have to abide by the country's health and safety regulations.

Mr Guy said he is pleased that a Ukrainian fishing boat has recently registered as a New Zealand vessel.