The Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters, say Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.
The Ministers today released the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.
The Inquiry, which was initiated by the Government last year, focused on several issues, including labour standards and protecting New Zealand’s reputation.
Mr Carter says the Inquiry panel has done a thorough job.
“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change,” says Mr Carter.
The 15 recommendations touch on a wide range of ministerial portfolios, including fisheries, labour, immigration, transport and foreign affairs and trade.
The Government has already decided to accept in principle, and act on, the Inquiry Panel’s first six recommendations.
The first three recommendations are for practical improvements that can be addressed quickly, and in some cases are already being made.
“The recommendations include updating the Code of Practice and strengthening the immigration approval process – both of which will help ensure better conditions for workers on FCVs,” says Ms Wilkinson.
“We will also be adopting a recommendation that the New Zealand fishing companies chartering foreign vessels have to show the Code is being followed. This is a significant move as it puts the onus on those companies, rather than the Department of Labour, which currently has to prove the Code has been breached.”
The Department of Labour is also to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the frequency and thoroughness of inspections.
MAF is to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs, including placing an observer on all FCVs fishing in New Zealand waters and considering non-fisheries offences when making FCV registration decisions.
Maritime New Zealand is to strengthen enforcement of FCV compliance with maritime safety standards.
Recommendations 4 to 6 propose closer inter-agency co-operation, to be overseen by an inter-agency steering group. This includes setting up a pilot programme for at-sea monitoring of compliance with fisheries, vessel safety and labour standards – targeting high-risk FCVs.
The remaining recommendations cover legislative amendments, ratifying international conventions, and significant policy changes. The Government is further considering the Inquiry Panel’s report and these recommendations before announcing any decisions.
View Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels Report: