29 Aug 2014

Negligence caused fishing crew deaths

9:04 pm on 29 August 2014

A coroner says the Government needs to do more to ensure safety on board foreign fishing vessels in New Zealand waters.

Richard McElrea has ruled that a skipper's negligence led to the deaths of 22 fishermen in frigid Antarctic waters south of New Zealand in December 2010.

Mr McElrea blamed the sinking of Korean fishing vessel No 1 Insung on the man in charge after he failed to close special hatches and erratically manoeuvred the boat in high seas, causing water to flood the lower decks.

The vessel looking for toothfish was making its way through the Southern Ocean when it suddenly capsized.

Survivors recounted jumping into the water to swim for two life rafts - but many of those on board had no lifejackets as they leapt into the frigid waters as the boat sank rapidly. Many quickly succumbed to the freezing water.

Twenty fishermen survived and upon arrival in Bluff told police about the appalling conditions on board where safety lessons were unheard of. Just five bodies have been recovered.

Mr McElrea said there was a lack of safety on board, with no rehearsed evacuation procedures - and that constituted negligence on the part of the captain.

He said the Government needs to work with other countries to ensure that their fishing boats are safe to work in, in New Zealand waters.

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