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Ministerial Inquiry panel and TOR announced

Ministerial Inquiry panel and TOR announced

Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Phil Heatley and Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson have today announced the Ministerial Inquiry panel members and the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the inquiry into the operation of fishing vessels, including foreign charter vessels (FCV), in New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters.

Phil Heatley says this will be a comprehensive inquiry.

"The TOR are deliberately broad in scope as in our view it is desirable to consider and address the breadth of issues that have been raised.

"We must ensure the use of all fishing vessels operating in EEZ waters supports government objectives. This includes protecting New Zealand's international reputation as a world-leading fisheries manager," says Mr Heatley.

Mr Heatley and Ms Wilkinson say a principal objective of the Inquiry is to ensure the operation of foreign owned and flagged vessels chartered by New Zealand fishing companies supports the following government objectives to:

* Protect New Zealand's international reputation and trade access,

* Maximise the economic return to New Zealand from our fisheries resources,

* Ensure acceptable and equitable New Zealand labour standards (including safe working environments) are applied on all fishing vessels operating in New Zealand's fisheries waters with in the EEZ.

The operation of FCV in New Zealand waters is controlled by a complex legislative regime that traverses Labour, Immigration, Maritime safety and Fisheries laws.

Paul Swain, a previous Labour Government Minister of Labour and Immigration, will chair the panel. He will be supported by Neil Walter and Sarah McGrath.

"This panel has considerable experience. Should they find that government's objectives are being undermined by current practise, it is expected that they will make recommendations relating to policy and legislative amendments, and suggest improvements to operational practises," says Ms Wilkinson.

The Inquiry Panel will determine how it is to gather information, but it is thought likely that it will call for submissions from interested groups. The final report back to Ministers is expected at the end of February 2012.

END

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