From Tonga to the Solomons, unsafe boats are a curse on the Pacific

    Whether they are fishing or carrying passengers, unsafe vessels are a curse on the Pacific.

    The New Zealand media has recently exposed cases of Tongan fishermen buying old boats in New Zealand and then sailing them back to the island kingdom, even though many of them are only supposed to be used in coastal waters.

    But reports show that unsafe and unseaworthy ships are a common problem, whether fishing in Tonga or carrying passengers in the Solomon Islands.

    Many fishing vessels are completely unequipped for working in the deep ocean.

    New Zealand authorities can do nothing if Tongan fishermen buy coastal fishing boats in New Zealand and then sail them home. Once they are taken off the New Zealand registry there is nothing the New Zealand government can do.

    According to a lengthy report in the Sunday Star Times, they are not subject to a mandatory inspection and once they are registered under the Tongan flag, New Zealand has no jurisdiction over them.

    The boats become Tonga’s problem, but there are already widespread issues with fishing boats in the kingdom.

    According to a report by Radio Tonga in January, when small fishing boats in the Ha’apai group were surveyed, almost none of them had basic safety equipment.

    Almost none of the small fishing boats were equipped with beacons, transceivers, flares or life jackets.

    Only four of the fishing boats were actually registered  by Tonga’s Marine department.

    Former Maritime NZ chief executive Russell Kilvington told the Star Times the Tongan Marine Department was understaffed and lacked expertise.

    Nelson boat broker Steve Thomas told the paper sales of fishing boats to Pacific Island nations should be halted until all vessels under 15 metres leaving New Zealand waters had to pass a Maritime NZ safety inspection.

    “We’re not doing anyone any favours sending old, rundown trawlers up to the Island nations,” Thomas said.

    Many Pacific fishermen are facing a precarious existence, with fishing stocks threatened by Chinese fishing fleets. With little money coming in, they may well skimp on safety measures and see cheap fishing boats from New Zealand as a solution.

    However, rather than being a solution, operating New Zealand boats may add to Tonga’s list of maritime disasters and dramas.

    The latest was the rescue of Tongan fishermen by a German cruise ship.

    The Tongan crew was operating a former New Zealand fishing boat, the Kaianga, that was meant to operate in coastal waters, not in the middle of the Pacific.

    Action in the Solomons

    At least one Pacific nation has promised to take action on maritime issues after problems with a Tongan vessel.

    Last year a Solomon Islands shipping company bought a 50-year old ship in Tonga, the MV Sitka. It ran aground in Fiji.

    In the wake of the grounding, the country’s Maritime and Safety Administration said it was time to get tough on the types of ships being brought into the country.

    One shipping agent said shipping companies had converted old fishing vessels into cargo and passenger vessels, even though many of them were not seaworthy.

    The main points

    • The New Zealand media has recently exposed cases of Tongan fishermen buying old boats in New Zealand and then sailing them back to the island kingdom, even though many of them are only supposed to be used in coastal waters.
    • Nelson boat broker Steve Thomas told the Sunday Star Times: “We’re not doing anyone any favours sending old, rundown trawlers up to the Island nations.”
    • The boats become Tonga’s problem, but there are already widespread issues with fishing boats in the kingdom.
    • According to a report by Radio Tonga in January, when small fishing boats in the Ha’apai group were surveyed, almost none of them had basic safety equipment.

    For more information

    Where Boats Go To Die

    Experts call for action over old fishing boats heading to Pacific

    Tongan fishermen lack safety gear – survey (RNZI)

    Solomons to curb buying old boats (RNZI)

    1 COMMENT

    1. Pe ko ʻenau toutai pe uta pāsese, kuo hoko e ngaahi vaka ʻikai malú ko ha mala he Pasifikí.

      Kuo toki fakaeʻa hake ʻe he mītia ʻa Nuʻu Silá ha ngaahi keisi hono fakatau ʻe he kau toutai Tongá ha ngaahi vaka motuʻa ʻi Nuʻu Sila ʻo ʻave ki motu neongo ko e lahi taha ʻo kinautolú ne totonu ke ngata pe ʻenau faifatongiá he ngaahi matāfangá.

      Ka ʻoku fakahā he līpōtí ʻoku ʻi ai e ngaahi vaka ʻikai malu mo feʻunga ke folau kuo hoko ko e palopalema, ʻo tatau he toutai ʻi Tongá pe ko e fetuku pāsese ʻi he ʻOtu Solomoné.

      ʻOku lahi e ngaahi vaka ʻoku ʻikai kakato hono nāunau ke fakahoko fatongia he ʻōseni lolotó.

      ʻOku ʻikai lava e kau maʻu mafai Nuʻu Silá ke fai ha meʻa kapau ʻe fakatau ʻe he kau toutai Tongá ha ngaahi vaka toutai ʻi Nuʻu Sila ʻo ʻave ki ʻapi. Ko hono ʻuhingá he ko hono toʻo pe mei he lēsisita vaka ʻa Nuʻu Silá ʻe ʻikai toe lava e puleʻanga Nuʻu Silá ia ke fai ha meʻa.

      Fakatatau ki ha fakamatala lahi ʻa e Sunday Star Times, ʻoku ʻikai ha mafai ke sivi kinautolu pea ko hono lēsisita pe ʻi he malumalu ʻo e fuka Tongá, ʻoku ʻikai ha toe mafai ia ʻo Nuʻu Sila ki ai.

      ʻOku hoko leva ʻa e ngaahi vaká ni ko e palopalema ki Tonga ka ʻoku lolotonga ʻi ai pe ʻa e faingataʻa lahi ʻi he ngaahi vaka ʻoku ʻi he puleʻanga fakatuʻí.

      Fakatatau ki ha lipooti ʻa e Letiō Tongá ko e taimi ne saveaʻi ai ʻa e fanga kiʻi vaka īkí ʻi Haʻapai ʻi Sānualí meimei ne ʻikai ha vaka ia ʻe ʻi ai hano nāunau fakahaofi moʻui.

      Meimei ne ʻikai ha vaka ia ʻe fakanāunauʻaki ha pēkoni, talanisiva, felea pe sāketi fakahaofi moʻui.

      Ko e vaka toutai pe ʻe fā ne lēsisita ʻi he potungāue Malini ʻa Tongá.

      Ne tala ange ʻe he pule lahi ki muʻa ʻo e Malini ʻa Nuʻu Silá Russel Kilvington ki he Star Times ʻoku nounou fakakaungāue ʻa e Potungāue Malini ʻa Tongá pea siʻi ha mataotao.

      Pehē foki ʻe he polouka mei Nelson ko Steve Thomas ki he pepá ʻoku totonu ke taʻofi e fakatau vaka ki he ngaahi fonua ʻotu motu Pasifikí kae ʻoualeva ke paasi ʻa e ngaahi vaka ʻi lalo he mita ʻe 15 ʻoku mavahe mei Nuʻu Silá ʻi he sivi malu ʻa e Malini ʻa Nuʻu Silá.

      ʻOku tokolahi ʻa e kau toutai Pasifiki ʻoku faingataʻa ke maʻu ʻenau toutaí, pea ʻoku ʼāsili aí mo e toe hū mai ʻa e ngaahi vaka toutai Siainá. Pea ko e siʻi leva ko ia haʻanau sēniti ʻoku maʻu heʻenau toutaí, ʻoku lava ke nau feinga ke fakasiosio kehe mei he founga sivi totonu e malu ʻa e vaká kae ʻai pe meʻa ʻoku maʻamaʻá mei Nuʻu Sila ke tokoni ki he fakamolé.

      Neongo iá, tukukehe ʻene hoko ko e veteʻanga ki honau palopalema fakapaʻangá, ko hono ngāueʻaki ʻo e ngaahi vaka Nuʻu Silá ni ʻoku ala toe tānaki atu ai ha ngaahi faingataʻa ki he ngaahi faingatāmaki kuo ʻosi tofanga ai e malini ʻa Tongá.

      Ko e fakamuimui tahá ko hono fakahaofi ʻo ha kau toutai Tonga ʻe ha vaka meili Siamane.

      Ko e kau toutai ko ení ne nau fakalele ha vaka toutai Nuʻu Sila ki muʻa, ko e Kaianga, ʻa ia ne ʻuhinga pe ia ke lele holo he matāfangá kae ʻikai ko e uhohuonga ʻo e Pasifikí.

      Kaekehe kuo palōmesi ha fonua ʻe taha he Pasifikí ke fai ha meʻa ki he ngaahi ʻīsiu fakamalini ko ʻeni hili ʻa e palopalema ʻo e vaka Tongá.

      ʻI he taʻu kuo ʻosí ne fakatau ai ʻe ha kautaha vaka Solomne ha vaka kuo taʻu ʻe 50 hono motuʻá mei Tonga, ko e MV Sitka. Ne tūkia ia ʻo toka ʻi Fisi.

      ʻI he hili e toka ko iá, ne pehē mei he Vaʻa Malini mo e Malu ʻa e fonuá kuo taimi ke fakafefekaʻi hono tokangaʻi e ngaahi vaka kuo ʻoange ki he fonuá.

      Pehē ʻe ha fakafofonga vaka ʻe taha kuo liliu ʻe he ngaahi kautaha vaká e ngaahi vaka toutai motuʻá ke hoko ko e vaka uta koloa mo uta pāsese, neongo ko e tokolahi ʻo kinautolu ne ʻikai taau ke kei lele ʻi tahi.

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