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MBIE investigating Foreign Charter Vessel

Media release

5 February 2013

MBIE investigating Foreign Charter Vessel

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is investigating allegations about employment conditions on board the Korean-flagged fishing vessel Sur Este 707, which is currently docked in Timaru.

The investigation follows information provided by a Fishery Observer from the Ministry for Primary Industries who was on the vessel. The Observer noted possible issues with vessel safety, excessive hours of crew work and falsification of crew time records. There are 21 Indonesian crew on the vessel.

Officers from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), the Labour Inspectorate and representatives from other agencies, including the Police and Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) visited the vessel yesterday morning in a co-ordinated operation. MNZ took immediate steps to ensure the vessel’s future safe operation.

INZ General Manager Steve Stuart says agencies were alerted to the situation as a result of the more effective information sharing between Government agencies following the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels (FCVs). The response also reflects a determination on the part of agencies to follow up on allegations in a joined up way.

“We take these allegations very seriously and we’ve co-ordinated our activities with other agencies to make sure they are fully investigated. The Ministry will not hesitate to take decisive action if the allegations are substantiated,” Mr Stuart says. “This could include reviewing the status of the Approval in Principle to recruit foreign crew which was granted to the New Zealand charter party in December last year.”

MBIE and other agencies are acting as quickly as possible to implement the recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry.

In May the Government announced that all foreign-owned vessels operating in New Zealand waters will be reflagged to New Zealand after a four-year transition period, meaning they will be subject to the full range of New Zealand law – including employment relations and workplace health and safety law.

Foreign crews will be protected during the four-year transition period with stronger monitoring and enforcement, including tougher independent audits of the New Zealand charter parties, safety monitoring on vessels and increased and enhanced on-board observer coverage.

ENDS

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