Watchdog poised for Governor loss inquiry

NOW WRECKED: The Governor, which is missing in Fiordland with skipper Kevin Cosgrove and crewman Nirvana Drew Reynolds on board.
NOW WRECKED: The Governor, which is missing in Fiordland with skipper Kevin Cosgrove and crewman Nirvana Drew Reynolds on board.

Maritime New Zealand says it will liaise with police before deciding what kind of investigation it will undertake after wreckage of a boat believed to be the Governor was found near Yates Point in Fiordland.

On board were former Bluff man, 60-year-old Kevin Cosgrove, and his sole crewman Nirvana Drew Reynolds, 16.

Spokesman Steve Rendle said Maritime NZ shared the community's concern at recent maritime tragedies in Southland.

"Any deaths at sea are devastating for the families of those involved, as well as their wider communities," he said.

Maritime NZ's industry liaison team worked with the fishing industry to provide a range of information on keeping safe at sea.

"Skippers have the responsibility for making decisions on when to fish or go to sea. [Maritime NZ's] role is to provide information and resources that assist skippers in making the right decisions," he said.

The safety guidelines for small commercial fishing vessels, prepared in conjunction with ACC and the Seafood Industry Council, set out strategies for managing a range of risks and hazards, from fire prevention to safety in a range of fishing operations, managing human factors including fatigue and stress, and weather and sea conditions.

"As the safety guidelines state, there is no harsher natural environment than the sea - and fishing is one of the most physically demanding and dangerous occupations," he said.

The Safe Ship management system focused on safe operational practices, while the Fishing Sector Action Plan launched last month set out initiatives to reduce the number of workplace deaths and injuries in the fishing industry, he said.

Maritime NZ also had fishing stability guidelines, and clear, key safety messages for recreational boaties available, he said.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council says greater regulation is not needed for skippers making the decision on when to go to sea.

Council spokesman Don Carson said yesterday individual fishermen might make a decision on whether to go out in inclement weather based on economic imperatives, "but we can't see anything where there previously was the ‘race to fish', or [to fish] on a first-in, first-served basis".

Wreckage believed to be the boat was found near Yates Point on Sunday.

Search and rescue efforts began the day before, after the Governor was reported overdue.

The boat was last heard from about 11.30am that day, when it radioed another boat to say its net had snagged.

The incident is the fourth boating tragedy to strike the south this year.

In January, two men died after the boat they were on capsized near White Island in Foveaux Strait. Two months later, nine people were aboard the Easy Rider when it capsized in the Strait during a trip to the Titi Islands.

In May, two men and their boat, the KCee, went missing in Fiordland.

The police national dive squad may be called in to examine the wreckage later in the week, when the weather clears.

The Southland Times