Ceebay Fishing Quota Holding Approved
Treasurer and Minister of Finance Dr Michael Cullen and Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson have approved an application by Ceebay Holdings Limited to continue to hold New Zealand fishing quota.
Ceebay holds quota for several fish species, of which 10,638 tonnes or 94.6% is hoki. That holding is about 4% of national hoki quota.
Ceebay is jointly owned by Maruha Corporation of Japan (24.9%) and the New Zealand company Amaltal (75.1%).
When established in 1992, Ceebay's shareholding structure did not determine it in law to be overseas-owned. However the company qualified as overseas-owned under foreign ownership provisions in the Fisheries Act 1996 that came into effect on October 1, 1999.
Overseas persons and companies may not own New Zealand fishing quota without ministerial approval.
Dr Cullen and Mr Hodgson said they were satisfied Ceebay's application met legal requirements for the individuals controlling Ceebay to be of good character and for approval to be in the national interest.
"We have dealt fairly with a company that was caught by a change in the law," Mr Hodgson said.
The ministers also considered allegations that Maruha has been involved in whaling and illegal fishing for toothfish.
"It appears that Maruha's involvement with whaling is at the minimum required of all major fishing companies in Japan, while the allegations of toothfish poaching are both unproven and strongly denied," said Mr Hodgson.
"Maruha's connection with whaling is a concern, but it would be both ineffective and unfair to attempt to punish a single company for a national practice. New Zealand will continue to advocate vigorously in the appropriate international forums for an end to whaling, by Japan or any other nation."
Mr Hodgson said Ceebay's hoki quota was one of the few blocks available for lease to operators independent of the larger fishing companies. Maruha's involvement provided significant export market access to Japan.
Maruha has been involved in the New Zealand fishing industry since the 1950s.