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Rogue Fishermen Will Ultimately See Maori Punished

Rogue Fishermen Will Ultimately See Maori Businesses Punished

The Government is punishing the wrong people with its ill-thought proposals to increase wages for workers on foreign-chartered fishing vessels, says the chairman of Treaty Tribes Coalition, Harry Mikaere.

The Coalition comprises 15 iwi with extensive historical and contemporary fishing interests.

“This proposal to increase wages for workers on foreign-chartered fishing vessels beyond what New Zealand’s must be paid will hurt Maori and not solve the small problem of a few cowboys rorting the system,” he said. “This idea makes no economic sense. Public statements from many iwi around the country have made it clear the Government’s proposals will have a disproportionate effect on Maori-owned fisheries quota. There’s no argument there.”

The Crown only reached fisheries settlement with iwi in 1992 when forced to and then legislated it so poorly that 12 years of debate resulted. It is only in the last 12 months that iwi have incrementally become owners of the quota promised to them back in 1992. As a result, only one or two have had the resources to buy their own boats. The vast majority of iwi are principally dependent on foreign charter vessels to catch our quota. “A Government decision that would make those charters uneconomic would have the direct result of making our quota worth less,” Mr Mikaere said.

“Maori are a big part of the New Zealand fishing industry, so when other industry participants have indicated the entire industry could end up paying a minimum of $30 million extra in costs, we have to be concerned about how much of that we end up paying.

“We believe the Government has a fiduciary duty to protect the Maori fisheries settlement as outlined in the 1992 Deed of Settlement. Would anyone else stand for someone they have done a deal with setting up policies that undercut the value of that deal?

“Where the Government can help is through working with industry to enforce already agreed laws and standards to ensure cowboys cannot operate in New Zealand. We all want to stamp out these rogue fishing vessels but by raising the wages of foreign workers is not the way to go about it,” Mr Mikaere said.


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