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Fishery Bill Turns Fishermen Into Global Criminals

New Fisheries Bill Turns Fishermen Into Global Criminals


The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council is bitterly disappointed that the government is promoting a bill that will effectively turn honest New Zealand fishermen into global criminals.

General Manager Trade and Information Alastair Macfarlane said the Fisheries Amendment Bill No 3 aimed to make New Zealand fisheries law applicable outside the New Zealand EEZ so that New Zealand could meet its obligations when it ratifies the UN fish stock agreement. (UNFSA.)

However under the bill New Zealand citizens who operate fishing vessels registered by another country will still require a fishing permit from the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries. The chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries will only grant that permit if a foreign nation in question meets certain legal performance standards determined by New Zealand legislation.

“The bill is aimed at giving greater control over fishing activities by New Zealand vessels outside New Zealand and in turn it means New Zealand can exert greater control over foreign fishing vessels fishing near New Zealand,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“However the Bill goes too far. In fact it applies the same principles as the recent law against paedophiliac sex tourists.”

“What the bill does is elevate New Zealand law above that of the countries where New Zealand fishermen may fish as employees. That is likely to incur the wrath of other nations who will rightly object to the New Zealand Government straying into areas of another countries jurisdiction and sovereignty.”



“Again the government has been served bad advice by officials High Seas fishing should have been dealt with under separate legislation. The industry supports trying to eliminate fishing under “flags of convenience” but this bill takes a shotgun approach to a complex issue. The ramifications of this draconian law will impact unreasonably on New Zealanders who want to take responsible and legal advantage of the fishing opportunities outside our territorial waters.

ENDS


Background To The Fisheries Amendment Bill No3

The Fisheries Amendment Bill No3 is being reported back to the House. It is mainly about making New Zealand fisheries law applicable outside the New Zealand EEZ so that New Zealand can meet its obligations when it ratifies the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA)

 The New Zealand fishing industry supports the UNFSA and supports the New Zealand intention to become a full party to the agreement.
 In return for allowing the government to exert greater control over their fishing activities outside New Zealand, New Zealand industry recognises that the UNFSA will allow New Zealand to exert better control over fishing vessels which fish near New Zealand on fish stocks that we have an interest in.
 The UNFSA will provide a catalyst to negotiating effective regional fisheries management agreements to manage high seas stocks in relation to our EEZ or which will benefit New Zealand high seas fishing businesses. The industry supports this objective.
 The New Zealand industry does not believe that making the UNFSA obligations part of the current Fisheries Act is appropriate The New Zealand Industry supports a separate International Fisheries Bill that gave effect specifically to international obligations and capabilities required as a party to the UNFSA. The argument, addressed in detail in our submission to the Select Committee, was rejected.

THE BILL GOES TOO FAR

 The Fisheries Amendment Bill goes further than the UNFSA requires. The UNFSA requires participants to control their vessels, the Bill will allow New Zealand to control fishing vessels and New Zealand nationals. It is this matter of individual liability that requires to be addressed.
 Where a New Zealand national is involved in operating fishing vessel registered in another country, the New Zealander will still require to get a permit from the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries.
 A permit – or a dispensation from a permit – will only be granted if the Chief Executive considers that the foreign country concerned meets certain minimum standards of legal performance determined by New Zealand legislation. There is no such requirement in the UNFSA.
 New Zealand will create global criminals of its citizens and possibly incur the wrath of other nations who will no doubt object to New Zealand straying into areas of national jurisdiction and sovereignty.
 The only parallel in New Zealand law is the law against paedophiliac sex tourists.

There is a real issue which the Bill is trying to address – poorly
 New Zealand government and industry share an interest in wanting to limit and if possible eliminate “flag of convenience” fishing.
 There is no easy solution to this issue. The solution offered by the Bill imposes unnecessary restrictions on the freedom of New Zealand nationals that are not being made by other UNFSA participants on their nationals.
 It will encourage New Zealand nationals who see their future fishing business interests as being outside New Zealand not only leaving New Zealand but taking their capital with them and requiring to change nationality as well.

SOME REAL WORLD EXAMPLES OF THE IMPACT

1. A New Zealand tuna fisher who moves to Australia (forced out by Cost Recovery charges as many have been) who takes his now Australian registered vessel under permit from the Australian government up to the Pacific to catch tuna will also have to get a permit from M’Fish in Wellington. Australia has acknowledged its responsibilities as the “flag state”, but without a personal NZ high seas fishing permit, the New Zealander will be deemed a criminal if he ever comes back to New Zealand and face a fine of up to $250,000. He would have to hand back his New Zealand passport and become and Australian citizen in order to avoid this requirement.

2. A company expands its New Zealand business to take on a fishing venture in Chile which uses Chilean flagged vessels. The venture receives authority from Chile to fish in the Southern Pacific outside the Chilean EEZ. The New Zealand Company would also require a permit from M’Fish to carry out its legally authorised Chilean business, although New Zealand has no discernible interest in the business or the fish species concerned. Chile is unlikely to join the UNFSA in the foreseeable future. The Bill requires the CEO of M’Fish to judge whether Chile has an adequate body of law to govern its fishing activity on the high seas. Should he decide it does not, it will make the New Zealand company into criminals and its Directors liable if they persist with the operation which is unable to obtain a permit from New Zealand. In addition to liability to a fine, the company’s capacity to retain a fishing permit for its New Zealand operations may be put under threat. New Zealand may also incur an unnecessary dispute with a country New Zealand tries to have good relations with.

3. New Zealanders orange roughy fishing masters are regarded the world’s experts and work today on vessels from Iceland, France, South Africa and Australia. There is growing interest in orange roughy resources in the high seas – and not just in the high seas between New Zealand and Australia. If a New Zealand national is regarded by New Zealand M’Fish as being in any way responsible for the activities of such a high seas fishing venture, the national will require to seek a permit from New Zealand, or like the tuna fisher, face the possibility of a $250,000 fine. He may also be unable to obtain a permit to fish in New Zealand should he choose to return here to fish, as many do.

4. In relation to the above, some of the skippers working Australian fishing vessels in the High Seas outside Australia on the South Tasman orange roughy fishery are New Zealanders. New Zealand would require them to obtain permits from here to enable them to fish under Australian permit. No such requirement is contemplated in regard to any Australian nationals who may skipper a New Zealand venture. The relationship between New Zealand and Australia in regard to Tasman Sea resources is already delicate enough without adding this bureaucratic aggravation.


New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd

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