More than 230 people have been rescued from the sea after a passenger ship sank off the east coast of Papua New Guinea.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority representative, Jo Meehan said the authority has been helping Papua New Guinea with rescue efforts after the ship, the Mv Rabaul Queen, sank about 16 kilometres off Cape Fortification after being caught up in high winds.

Information from the ferry company suggested that there were about 350 people aboard the boat when it sank.

Australian authorities said searches are expected to resume today.