Russian Trawler Capsizes Near Kamchatka

Rescuers are still looking for 15 missing crew members in the Sea of Okhotsk. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations)
Rescuers are still looking for 15 missing crew members in the Sea of Okhotsk. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations)

More than 50 fishermen have died after a Russian factory trawler sank in the Sea of Okhotsk on Wednesday.

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The Dalny Vostok was hauling in a load of pollock when it started to capsize,according to maritime and government officials. Within 15 minutes, the vessel was totally submerged.

Good Samaritans and rescue teams managed to save about half of the ship’s crew. There were 132 fishermen on board at the time of accident — almost twice as many as the vessel had when it left port in Russia.

A provincial governor told Agence France Presse that many of the crew members were foreign and not wearing life jackets or wetsuits when the ship sank.

Russian officials have started interviewing some of those survivors and the vessel’s owner. According to a state-run news agency, they’re investigating whether the 338-foot trawler was overloaded — and whether it hit a patch of sea ice, damaging the hull.

Russia’s pollock industry has seen big changes in the last few years. The Sea of Okhotsk was named a sustainable fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council — putting it in the same category as pollock from the Bering Sea.

That used to be a popular import into Russia. But it’s been banned ever since the government ordered an embargo on foreign seafood last summer. As a result, Russians have been seeking out more pollock fished off the coast of their country.