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Statement from the charterers of Sky 75

"Poseidon Fishing Limited, the charterers of the fishing vessel Sky 75, wish to state the following

The 10 Indonesians that recently jumped ship in Nelson on the evening of Wednesday 14 September 2005 may have jumped ship for reasons other than those stated to the media over the past few days. The vessel arrived in NZ on 14 September 2005 with 28 crew. No fishing occurred in the NZ EEZ and as such the crew would not have been fully employed.

Contrary to their assertions, the crew have been paid for the period that they have been on board (about 30 days). The owners and charterers state unequivocally that they were not mistreated in any way whilst on board. The remaining Indonesian crew on the vessel (8 men) have elected to remain on board.

This appears to be an organised desertion, as the 10 chose to leave in the dead of night by jumping the port fence (rather than the main gate), despite having access to Department of Labour, Immigration, Missions to Seamen and other officials on arrival of the vessel in Nelson. It has been suggested that the 10 crew were lured away by the prospect of illegal employment on fruit farms in the Nelson Marlborough region, but a recent clamp down on illegal immigrants in the region made it impossible for them to find work. Once off the vessel, they were in breach of their crew agreements and sought to secure their passage home by raising false allegations against the vessel owners and charterers.

The ITF (who appear to have usurped the jurisdiction of the Fishing Industry Guild) are electing to conduct a trial by media and have chosen not to explore the facts of the matter and have taken the crew's version of events at face value. They have found the owners/charterers guilty without speaking to the master, the charterer or the remaining officers and crew of the vessel. This approach is counterproductive and does much damage to the credibility of the many reputable foreign vessels operating in New Zealand. Fortunately a more considered approach is being taken by officials at the Department of Labour.

The Fishing Industry Guild, (the recognised New Zealand Fishing Industry Union) were an active party in recent negotiations with the Department of Labour and NZIS for the development of a Code of Practice for the Employment of Foreign Fishing Crew. Poseidon are a signatories to the Code of Practice and have complied in full with its terms.

The 10 crew were both accommodated in motels and flown home to Indonesia at the charterer's expense, after being interviewed by officials of the Department of Labour.

The matter is being further investigated by the Department of Labour and it should be put to rest soon."

ENDS

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