3 Jan 2017

Tongan fishermen lack safety gear - survey

4:50 pm on 3 January 2017

Almost none of the small fishing boats in Tonga's Ha'apai group have basic safety equipment.

Fishing boat in Greymouth

File photo of a fishing boat: Nearly all of the boats surveyed lacked basic safety gear. Photo: 123RF

A survey conducted by Search and Rescue in the island group found 98 percent of small fishing boats lacked facilities for safe travel at sea, such as beacons, transceivers, flares and life jackets.

According to Radio Tonga, of the 134 fishing boats in Ha'apai, only four were registered by the Marine Department.

Last year, Search and Rescue carried out 19 operations and saved 67 lives.

Acting deputy police commissioner 'Atunaisa Taumoepeau said two fishing boats had gone missing because of engine faults.

Boats' engines were required to be serviced at all times, he said.

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