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Government exempts ships of shame in NZ fishing industry

Government exempts ships of shame in NZ fishing industry

Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Maritime Union says that an exemption for Japanese tuna fishers and some iwi quota holders in the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill should be thrown out.

Last minute changes to the Bill by the Primary Production Select Committee would allow some iwi quota holders to sidestep the requirement to use New Zealand flagged vessels by 2016.

Maritime Union National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says after years of deaths, injuries, abuse and criminal activity involving foreign charter vessels (FCVs), the industry had to be cleaned up with no exception as was agreed.

The proposed new exemption for some iwi operators until 2020 was a disgrace, he says.

The Maritime Union has called for the current 2016 deadline to reflag FCVs under the New Zealand flag be brought forward to 2014.

Meddling with the intent of the Bill is giving a green light to the abuse and exploitation of workers in New Zealand waters, says Mr Fleetwood.

The FCV debacle had caused a backlash with New Zealand's trading partners.

In the United States high level Government reports and business media had identified some FCVs in the New Zealand fishing industry as engaging in forced labour trafficking.

Weakening the new legislation by exemptions would undermine the entire purpose of the Bill and the much overdue reform of the fishing industry, and brings the credibility of the Select Committee into question, says Mr Fleetwood.

"There should be no exemption for any operator. We have to ban slave ships from New Zealand waters. If we managed to ban nuclear warships, we can ban FCVs."

Mr Fleetwood says the Maritime Union view was that Government, foreign operators and iwi should be training Maori youth and providing employment for them in the fisheries industry, and there should be jobs available for all New Zealanders in the industry.

"This is a national resource belonging to all New Zealanders and the industry cannot be allowed to operate in the way it has been in the past."


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