Former crewmembers and relatives of victims and disappeared in the tragic sinking of longliner Amur in October 2000, are demanding former Punta Arenas Port Marine Officer for having allowed the vessel to leave in spite of its alleged poor safety and sailing conditions reports the local press.
On October 9, 2000, while in Sub-Antarctic waters illegally catching toothfish in the French Overseas Territory Kerguelen Islands EEZ, longliner Amur with a crew of 40, including Korean, Spanish, Peruvian, Danish, Indonesian and Chilean nationals sank with the loss of 14 people, seven of them Chilean. The vessel had left Punta Arenas authorized by Marine Officer Nilton Duran Salas.
The criminal charges against Mr. Duran Salas are co-sponsored by two Chilean Congressmen and are based on an investigative report done by Chilean television describing "Amur" poor safety conditions when it called in Punta Arenas and left for the Sub-Antarctic.
According to the Chilean television report Mr, Duran Salas was well aware the vessel was unprepared to face strong storms in the Southern seas and could easily go down as happened October 9 of 2000 when it was flooded by two large waves and overturned.
The complainants want criminal responsibilities to be clearly established and then proceed to demand compensations for relatives and survivors.
Survivors claim the "Amur" belonged to the Spanish company Austral Management and had left Montevideo under the name of "Sils" flying the Belize colours but by the time it had reached Chile she was the "Amur" and flagged in Sao Tome.
Most crewmembers it was later proved had unregistered contracts, no life insurance and some of them were not even trained. Besides the technical and safety conditions on board were virtually non existent, according to the television investigative report.
Chilean survivors, most of them from Puerto Montt, declared that the "Amur" was not the only longliner knowingly and illegally catching toothfish in French waters next to Kerguelen islands at the time.
Actually when the "Amur" was lost the crew was rescued by the "Arvisa 1" and taken to the "Aqua Reefer" operating as support and transshipment vessel in the area. They finally were transported in the "Lena" which had previously unloaded its catch in the high seas.
"Most of theses vessels involved in illegal, unreported, undeclared, IUU, fishing are really old and at the point of being scrapped. If they sink or are arrested losses are minimal", declared one of the survivors in the television report.
Apparently when survivors and relatives complained to Spanish and Chilean authorities and were unable to interest them in the plight, they decided to organize and create the Association of Relatives of Victims and Survivors of the "Amur" which together with the High Seas fishermen's union pushed ahead with the demand.