High Seas Background Sheet
The issues were raised in the Select Committee and in subsequent correspondence with the Chair of the Select Committee and with Ministers.
Up until the Fisheries Amendment Bill No 3 is passed New Zealand would not meet the requirements of the legislation. Right now New Zealand would meet the implied definition of a Flag of Convenience fishing nations. In reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Where there are established regional management arrangements – as in the case of CCAMLR – NZ Companies have scrupulously observed all permitting requirements.
However, the New Zealand legislation has no geographic limits. New Zealand has taken a very different approach to this issue than for example, Australia.
We would have little or no objection if the legislation confined itself – as the Australians do – to fisheries covered by recognised fisheries management agreements. NZ industry is fully prepared to cooperate.
There are likely to be many cases, as in fisheries round New Zealand or in the vicinity of Latin America where there are no such agreements where New Zealand Companies are going to find themselves in difficulty. If the controls on other countries fishing vessels which NZ companies may use in the high seas are on a par with the laws which apply in NZ up until the passing of the Bill, then NZ companies would be liable to criminal conviction in NZ for using vessels from those countries.
The issue which NZ is trying to address in a scatter gun fashion, is to outlaw the use of vessels from countries generally recognised the world round as not having any interest in controlling fishing vessels registered under their jurisdiction. It would be much more honest for New Zealand simply to identify those countries and put appropriate measure in place to ensure that no New Zealand operation uses vessels from those countries.
However that would require New Zealand to be making public judgements about other nations’ competencies which would potentially get it into diplomatic dispute. Instead of fronting up to those countries shortcomings and being honest enough in public to accuse them of condoning “illegal fishing practices”, New Zealand is going round the back and simply constructing a legal gauntlet that could end up with New Zealanders being labelled as criminals.