The Southern Ocean Korean fishing boat fire, believed to have killed three people, should serve as a wake-up call for the Government to close the Ross Sea as a marine protected area, the Green Party says.
The Jeong Woo 2, a 51m ship fishing for toothfish, was in the Ross Sea, about 2000 nautical miles (3704km) southeast of New Zealand, when it sent out a distress signal overnight after a fire started onboard.
Three of the 40 crew members on board are believed to have died in the fire, while the survivors have been rescued.
Green Party oceans spokesman Gareth Hughes said the incident emphasised the need to close the area to protect the environment.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"In little over a year three fishing vessels - the Jung Woo 2, along with the Sparta and Number 1 In Sung, which sank with 22 lives lost, have come to grief in the Ross Sea," Green Party Oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes says.
"I am glad the injured crew have been rescued and the Sparta has arrived safe in New Zealand. However, I would not like them to continue fishing in the Ross Sea."
Mr Hughes said very little was known about toothfish and the environment had to be protected.
"Continuing the fishery in this dangerous environment further risks our green credentials given international supermarkets such as Safeways are boycotting New Zealand-caught toothfish," he said.
"This pristine environment must not be put at risk by old, single-hulled unsuitable fishing boats like these, that race to catch as much as they can despite the weather in the 'Olympic' style fishery."
Mr Hughes said international negotiations over the Ross Sea were ongoing, and New Zealand needed to act to protect the area.