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Luxton Refutes Seafic Claims

Fisheries Minister John Luxton today refuted claims from the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) made in respect of the Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 3).

The Bill allows the New Zealand Government to better control the activities of New Zealand fishing vessels outside the New Zealand EEZ. The UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Compliance Agreement specifically require New Zealand to control its fishing vessels on the high seas.

"If New Zealanders are fishing on vessels that are flagged by a responsible state then there is no need for New Zealand to issue a permit. However, if our nationals are fishing for states that have not signed up to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and they do not have any other mechanism for controlling their vessels on the high seas, then a New Zealand authorisation will be necessary," Mr Luxton said.

New Zealanders on foreign vessels are subject to the permit or authorisation issued by the flag State over the vessel concerned.

"It is however an offence for New Zealanders to operate on foreign vessels that do not have a permit or authorisation from a responsible flag state. This is to prevent New Zealanders using flags of convenience to avoid international conservation and management measures."

"Contrary to SeaFIC's claims, the Bill does not elevate New Zealand law above the law of other countries. New Zealand is not straying into the jurisdiction of other countries as the legislation can only be enforced within New Zealand's jurisdiction. There was every opportunity for these issues to raised at Select Committee."

Mr Luxton noted that the regime in the Bill is very similar to that applied by New Zealand, Australia and the USA in the CCAMLR (Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) waters around Antarctica. No other countries have ever raised concern with this approach taken in Antarctica.

It is also important to note that two of the major New Zealand industry players have been operating under a similar regime in Antarctica. No concerns have been raised in respect of requirements that a New Zealand flagged vessel must be used if fishing under a New Zealand permit in that fishery.

"If New Zealand only controls its own flagged vessels, as industry has previously proposed, then we would be creating an incentive for New Zealanders to re-flag vessels to "flags of convenience" in order to avoid control. Clearly that is not in the interests of managing the high seas sustainably," Mr Luxton concluded.


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