Kiwi fishermen arrive home after seven months stranded on boat in Indian Ocean

A group of New Zealand fishermen have returned home after seven months stuck on a boat in the Southern Indian Ocean.

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The Sealord crew were stranded because of the pandemic. Source: 1 NEWS

The Sealord crew were stranded because of Covid-19, and had to keep working until the company could come to the rescue.

Three months of fishing turned into seven, with the Will Watch dropping off its daily catch to the island of Mauritius.

Six of the seven men flew into Christchurch yesterday and are currently in a facility for two weeks of managed isolation. The other man decided to stay on.

From his hotel, second mate Jacob Novak told 1 NEWS that it was a difficult lockdown.

“I got to admit, I did think people whinging about a few weeks of lockdown seemed pathetic,” he said.

It’s been a logistical nightmare for Sealord, which tried and failed several times to bring about a crew change.

Eventually the company chartered a private plane - a 23,000km round trip between New Zealand and Mauritius costing over $300,000.

Sealord Fleet Harvest Manager Bill Healey said they contemplated going to Singapore, Australia and South Africa, but ruled that out because “of a number of issues”.

“The cost is significant and it was definitely a factor however Sealord is about whanau and about looking after our crews,” he said.

Sealord will give the crew at least a three month break, but already skipper Chris Howarth said he’s looking forward to getting back on the ocean.