12 Oct 2018

Search for missing Sealord crew member suspended

9:57 am on 12 October 2018

Rescue officials are deciding whether to resume to search for a Sealord crew member who went missing from a fishing boat off the coast near Cape Palliser yesterday.

The operation has been suspended in the meantime due to bad weather.

The company said the crew onboard the fishing vessel Otakou became alarmed when the crew member did not report for duty yesterday morning.

It said a search started immediately and authorities were notified.

But detoriating weather has stopped the search and the Otakou is now on its way back to Nelson.

Chris Henshaw from the Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the sea conditions were not great.

"The water temperature's 13 degrees and so the survival time is a number of hours," he said.

"We will work through with survival experts on calculating what the survival time will be."

Sealord spokesperson Doug Paulin said the Otaku has been out at sea for about a week, and crew members who were off duty enjoy their own private time on the ship.

"They could be in their cabin watching television, they could be sleeping, they could be [doing] a number of things, it's essentially their own private time," he said.

"Then once we start fishing operations, which is... when we shoot the nets, that's when the call would go out and they would report for work."

Mr Paulin said in his seven years at the company, this is the first time something like this had happened.

He said Sealord started its own internal investigation into what happened yesterday.