Multiple failings across two trips by fishing company

19 July 2022

A lack of training, instruction, and supervision for new staff and poor safety practices have been highlighted in the case of a fishing company recently sentenced in the Christchurch District Court.

Eureka Fishing Ltd and Hyun Gwan Choi (the husband of the director and who is responsible for the company’s day-to-day business) have been sentenced for six charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act for incidents that occurred in late 2020 and early 2021.

The first incident saw two crew members on the vessel FV Remus exposed to risk of injuries with one suffering an infection due to prolonged handling of a particular species of fish.

In the second, a teenage crew member lost the tips of two fingers in an incident involving a pulley.

The company failed to notify Maritime NZ of the incident involving the loss of the fingertips, leaving it up to the victim to make the notification themselves.

Earlier this year the vessel’s skipper was sentenced under the Maritime Transport Act for his failure to notify the incident where the young crew member lost the tips of their fingers.

Investigations Manager, Pete Dwen says Maritime NZ is deeply disappointed in the safety practices of the company.

"The incidents highlight a number of failings; from a lack of information, training, instruction, and supervision, to being unable to offer adequate first aid equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE) and not notifying Maritime NZ of the incident.

"The crew members were inexperienced, young (in one case just 15 and on their first trip on board a vessel) and new to the FV Remus.

None of the victims received an induction or training prior to joining the crew of the FV Remus.

"Inductions are a key tool for new staff to understand the risks on vessels and reduce potential incidents of harm especially for workplaces, like the FV Remus that conduct high-risk work.

"It is also hugely important incidents are reported to Maritime NZ as soon as practicably possible," he.

The vessel lacked the appropriate PPE and necessary first aid, meaning the victims were unable to either prevent or properly look after their respective injuries.

"A significant part of working at sea is ensuring your people are well looked after.

"This includes ensuring vessels have the necessary PPE and medical capabilities should someone get injured, including a well-stocked first aid kit," Pete Dwen says.

Maritime NZ recommends operators get in touch with a local Maritime Officer if they have questions about how to operate safely.

Editor’s note:

Eureka Fishing was fined $50,000 and to pay $13,500 in costs. Mr Choi was fined $4000.

The judge ordered the company to pay $30,000 in reparation to the three victims, for emotional harm and consequential loss.

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