Three fishermen who perished when a trawler sank in New
Zealand fisheries waters died of drowning, a Coroner has
But the tragedy highlights the difficulties faced by local
authorities in getting foreign charter vessels to adhere to
New Zealand safety standards before going out to sea.
Now, Coroner Richard McElrea has made a series of
recommendations to increase safety on fishing vessels
operating in New Zealand waters.
He recommended the Government, as a matter of priority, signs
up to two international fisheries safety conventions.
The coroner also supported proposals for foreign charter
vessels to go through extra training for all fishermen before
they leave New Zealand ports.
The recommendations were made after a week-long inquest last
April into the deaths of three Indonesian seamen - Heru
Yuniarto, 25, Samsuri, 39, and Taefur, 35.
Coroner McElrea ruled they died by drowning when their
Korean-registered trawler, Oyang 70, sank in calm conditions
740 kilometres southeast of Dunedin on August 18, 2010.
The 51-strong crew was made up of 36 Indonesian, eight
Korean, six Filipino and one Chinese national.
A total of six people died in the sinking, with 45 seafarers
surviving - described by one inquest witness as "an absolute
The Oyang 70 was owned by Sajo Oyang Corporation in Korea and
was charted by New Zealand fishing company Southern Storm
It was trawling for southern blue whiting when a "very large
catch" caused the already unbalanced ship to list.
Oyang captain Hyonki Shin refused to throw fish away and
instead tried to bring the nets on board.
But the full nets caused water to flood the ship and immerse
its massive internal factory.
A call to abandon ship came and life rafts were deployed with
most of the crew managing to escape the sinking ship in
The captain was last seen "sitting hugging a pole in the
wheelhouse and crying after having drunk from a bottle".
He went down with the ship.
The inquest heard that Captain Shin's attempt to haul the
120-tonne bag of fish on to the trawl deck of a vessel with
"marginal stability" set in place a "catastrophic and sudden"
chain of events that he was unable to counter.
Coroner McElrea ruled that he failed to act in a professional
manner, did not ensure the emergency procedures were
understood by his crew, and didn't carry out any form of
abandon ship training.
"The vessel was not run in an orderly fashion and there was a
poor safety culture," he said.