Questions over Chinese fishing vessel aground in Marshalls

Questions are being asked about what a Chinese-flagged fish carrier, which ran aground last week, was doing in the Marshall Islands.

The Ou Ya Leng No.6, with 24 crew, ran aground at uninhabited Taka Atoll in the northern Marshalls on Thursday.

The crew were rescued by the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol's Lomor patrol boat and a Chinese fishing vessel.

The Marshalls' Chief Secretary Ben Graham said a representative of the vessel's owner is expected in Majuro this Friday and the government expects to learn what they plan to do about the vessel.

Government investigators have been interviewing the crew to try to determine what the vessel was doing in Marshall Islands waters and how the vessel ran on to the reef at Taka.

In the meantime, Mr Graham said a multi-agency group was preparing to head to the northern atoll in the next several days to conduct a full inspection of the vessel and damage to the atoll.

He says the government is treating the site as a crime scene.

The 90-metre vessel is a freezer fish carrier similar to the transshipment carrier vessels that use Majuro lagoon to offload tuna from fishing boats that is later transported to canneries.

The vessel owner is reported to be a squid supplier to longline vessels fishing in the region.