The 'angry' Korean skipper of an unsafe fishing boat in New Zealand waters was responsible for the deaths of five Indonesian men.
Foreign charter boat Oyang 70 sank in August 2010 while fishing for southern blue whiting 740 kilometres east of Otago.
Six men were killed, including skipper Hyoniki Shin, 41, who chose to go down with the ship.
Five Indonesians, all working in brutal conditions with low or no wages, died because, as coroner Richard McElrea found in a report out yesterday, the Korean officers of the 38-year-old ship abandoned the low-wage Indonesians and Filipinos as the ship sank. "It was a matter of every man for himself."
While Sajo Oyang Corporation of Korea never helped the widows; the Accident Compensation gave them grants, although not required to.
One of the widows, known by the alias "Eula", tried to get her late husband's salary from an agent.
"They said husband's insurance money has not come from the Korean agent and, if you want to get insurance money, you must sleep with the director of the agency for a few days," a friend of Eula's said.
McElrea conducted hearings last April in Wellington and his report was delayed as lawyers for Sajo Oyang and its Christchurch charter, Southern Storm Fishing (2007) Ltd objected to the adverse findings.
He said that, of the 51 people on board, the eight Koreans held positions of responsibility while Shin was described as "an angry man" and "very authoritarian".
The ship sank because of "mismanagement by its master".
He hauled in a large net of southern blue whiting as the crew pleaded with him to cut it free.
"His attempt to haul a 120-tonne bag of fish on the trawl deck of a vessel with marginal stability set in place a catastrophic and sudden chain of events that he and his Korean command personnel were unable to counter," the report said.
When the ship went into a list, water flooded in, through a factory deck offal chute left open.
Shin failed to react in any professional manner. After he failed to right the ship, he gave a command in Korean to abandon ship.
"The navigator last saw the master in the wheelhouse where he handed the master a lifejacket, which he refused to accept. The master was sitting hugging a pole in the wheelhouse and crying after having drunk from a bottle."
McElrea highlighted the way the Koreans discriminated against the Indonesians, noting the Koreans all had lifejackets but nobody else did.
A crewman told how all the Koreans were in one liferaft, not helping anybody else. Indonesians on the factory floor were "bizarrely left processing fish until they were in water of a metre's depth".
McElrea said it was a miracle 45 people survived, and hailed the rescue by the Nelson-based Talley's ship Amaltal Atlantis.
The Oyang 70 operated "with routine violation of maritime rules".
The Maritime Union of New Zealand has called for tougher regulations on the fishing industry.
National secretary Joe Fleetwood said the union had been calling for such an overhaul for 10 years, and the Oyang 70 workers' deaths were a result of the "rotten practices" currently permitted.
"It is a stain on New Zealand's conscience that these ships of shame were allowed to be operated in New Zealand waters," he said. Fairfax NZ
- © Fairfax NZ News
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