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Freemarket fishing industry destroying marine life

Friday 6 May 2005

Free market fishing industry destroying marine life and workers lives

The Maritime Union says the recall of a 35-strong fleet of squid trawlers due to environmental abuse is part of a wider crisis in the fishing and maritime sector.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the long-term damage being done to New Zealand's marine life is part of the same system that has seen New Zealand fishing and coastal shipping being ripped apart.

Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union agrees with environmental groups such as Forest and Bird that marine life must be protected, but he says the conditions and rights of workers in the industry are being ignored.

"The Government says it will put independent fisheries observers on board these squid trawlers – but the Maritime Union would like to see the same action on how overseas workers on board foreign fishing trawlers are being treated."

Mr Hanson says a Government report into conditions of overseas crews on fishing vessels has been held back without good reason.

"The Maritime Union see the issue of workers rights as entirely related to the issue of environmental degradation in the maritime sector."

Overseas crews on fishing vessels are regularly jumping ship, being injured or killed, says Mr Hanson.

Several thousand overseas workers are being employed in the fishing industry, with local workers being forced out of employment by poor wages and conditions.

"It is because the New Zealand fishing industry has been run on a short-term and exploitative mentality out of the public eye that we have these problems."

Mr Hanson says the problems of the industry are an indication of how a free trade, globalized economic system is leading New Zealand and other countries down a dangerous path.

Sources within the New Zealand fishing industry say foreign trawlers have no interest in looking after New Zealand resources unlike New Zealand crewed vessels which have a culture of sustainability.

The great majority of the squid trawl catch is taken by foreign trawlers from Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Japan chartered to New Zealand companies.

ENDS

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