9 Aug 2011

Allegations of abuse aboard foreign fishing vessels

11:08 pm on 9 August 2011

The Fisheries Minister insists authorities will act swiftly if they are aware of any mistreatment of anyone working in New Zealand's jurisdiction, including fishing crew.

A report due to be released by Auckland University researchers on Thursday will reveal allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse aboard foreign charter fishing vessels in New Zealand waters.

The report is mostly based on interviews conducted with crew members of the South Korean fishing trawler Oyang 70, which sank about 400 nautical miles offshore on 18 August last year claiming six lives, and those aboard its replacement the Oyang 75.

Dr Christina Stringer say the Indonesian crew of the Oyang 75 told her of being beaten by officers, working 40-hour shifts until they begged for a break, and some sexual abuse.

Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley says he expects authorities to respond directly to this specific situation and a ministerial inquiry into the foreign fishing crew industry will look at the broader problem.

The company at the centre of most of the allegations, Sajo Oyang Corporation, rejects the report's claims.