19 Jun 2009

Major scrutiny of fishing crew qualifications

9:48 pm on 19 June 2009

Crew qualifications on the country's 1300-odd fishing vessels are being scrutinised by Maritime New Zealand in the light of an avoidable accident at sea.

The longline fishing vessel Walara-K sank off the west coast of the North Island two years ago and a Transport Accident Investigation Commission report has found that the three-man crew lacked experience for the conditions.

The Walara-K sank in 500 metres of water while fishing about 195 nautical miles off Cape Egmont in 2007.

The skipper was the only person on board with any engineering training.

As well, says commission investigator Doug Monks, none of the crew had the experience to operate beyond 100 nautical miles.

Maritime New Zealand says it is carrying out an extensive review of qualifications and operational limits for fishing-boat crews.