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Time to connect the dots on Flags of Convenience

Maritime Union of New Zealand media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday 6 March 2006

Maritime Union says it's time to connect the dots on Flag of Convenience fishing

The Maritime Union has welcomed New Zealand signing up to an international crackdown on illegal fishing – which also provides a clear opportunity to solve the abuse and exploitation of maritime workers.

Fisheries ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, Chile, Namibia and New Zealand have agreed to a plan which will mean global tracking of fishing vessels, as well as an online database of their names, location and history, to help uncover illegal fishing.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the plan means that "half of the problem" is being seriously addressed.

"The next step is to ensure fishing workers – and all seafarers of whatever country of origin – are being paid a decent wage and working under decent conditions."

He says the global tracking system could be widened out to all shipping, to ensure workers were not being abused or exploited.

"Deregulation has failed. The global maritime free market has failed. It will require co-ordinated international action to clean up the monopolistic, unaccountable mess of Flag of Convenience shipping."

Mr Hanson says a 2005 report from the Australian Government, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), and the global conservation organization WWF, had revealed the pillaging of threatened fish stocks, human rights abuses and global pirate fishing operations were all linked problems.

"It is time to connect the dots between illegal fishing operations and countries that offer cheap registration services, or Flags of Convenience (FOC), to fishing vessels."

He says the current moves by Government's around the world vindicate the Maritime Union's strong stance on both workers rights and environmental protection.

ENDS

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