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Foreign Charter Vessel Bill threatens value of Fisheries

Foreign Charter Vessel Bill threatens value of Maori Fisheries

The discussion around the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Bill is one of the most important facing iwi this year, Te Ohu Kaimoana Chief Executive Peter Douglas said at the hui-a-tau (annual general meeting) in Wellington today.

Te Ohu Kaimoana has urged iwi to make submissions to Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee that will be considering the Bill.

“We’re dismayed at the proposals in the Bill.” Mr Douglas said. “As a result of media-driven hysteria, the Government has gone beyond even what the inquiry panel recommended by prohibiting FCVs in the New Zealand fishery from May 2016.”

Te Ohu Kaimoana assessed the effect of these decisions and believes there could be a loss of up to $10 million per year in iwi income, although the true outcome will depend on how the Government’s decisions are legislated and implemented.

Mr Douglas was especially critical of the role of the media in the public discussion over FCVs, notably that certain assumptions were placed on iwi that they are responsible for the alleged working conditions on board some vessels. Iwi were wrongly treated as protagonists in the debate.

“Too many newspaper articles, radio and TV bulletins pitch iwi as the culprits of FCV use when over 80 percent of New Zealand fish caught by foreign vessels is from non-Māori companies. It’s unfortunate that in spite of our attempts to correct it, organisations continue to use false information even when given the true facts,” Mr Douglas said.

FCVs are used to fish high-volume low-value quota that, without FCVs, might otherwise not get fished because New Zealand companies do not have vessel capacity to do so. The reality is that a maximum of 17 percent of the total fish that is caught by FCVs can be from Maori Settlement Quota. In reality, it is much less.

“While we have engaged with government, including officials about this, we are dismayed to find that the legislative proposals go well beyond charter vessels or foreign vessels reflagged under the New Zealand flag but include all domestic vessels – both deepwater and inshore.”

“Te Ohu Kaimoana is not aware of any demonstrated problems with these fishers that can justify the draconian powers of being able to suspend, cancel or refuse a vessel registration with no powers of review that would stand the normal tests of natural justice,” Mr Douglas said.


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