The Maritime Union of New Zealand says the findings of a Coroner’s inquest into the sinking of the Oyang 70, released today, make appalling reading.
Findings identified systemic failure of ship management and safety practices, and routine violation of maritime rules and seafaring practice, were responsible for leading to the sinking of the foreign charter fishing vessel in 2010.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the inquest has confirmed the Union’s view of industry practices.
“It is a stain on New Zealand’s conscience that these ships of shame were allowed to be operated in New Zealand waters.”
Mr Fleetwood says the deregulation of the fishing industry and subsequent failure to ensure standards and processes were in place have had a terrible outcome.
“The deaths of the workers involved are a result of the rotten practices that have been permitted to take hold in the fishing industry.”
The sinking occurred in dire circumstances when the master attempted to take on board an oversized net of catch, causing the vessel to take on water.
Crew members were left to fend for themselves with no evacuation system in place, and a worse outcome was only avoided due to the fast rescue action of the New Zealand vessel Amaltal Atlantis which was in the area.
The Coroner also criticized aspects of New Zealand’s ship safety management process.
Mr Fleetwood says that the Maritime Union has been calling for an overhaul of the industry for 10 years.
He says the inquest findings show that the deregulation of the fishing industry has been a failure and tough new regulations were needed.
The Oyang 70 sank in New Zealand territorial waters 400 nautical miles east of South Island on 18 August 2010.
Six persons drowned including three Indonesian crew whose bodies were recovered.