17 Oct 2011

Maritime Union calls for overhaul of fisheries regulations

6:58 pm on 17 October 2011

The Maritime Union has told a ministerial inquiry that foreign charter vessels should be removed from the New Zealand fishing industry.

The union's comments were part of its submission to an inquiry which began on Monday into the industry and the operations of foreign vessels

The inquiry was ordered after the crew abandoned the Korean-flagged Oyang 75 trawler in Lyttelton in June this year, following allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse aboard the deep-sea fishing boat.

Maritime Union general secretary Joe Fleetwood says that situation revealed the dark secrets of the industry and now is the time to make some changes.

Mr Fleetwood says a complete overhaul of the fisheries regulations is needed and believes the fishing of New Zealand waters should return to New Zealand hands.

Earlier, the inquiry was told a reduction in the number of foreign fishing vessels in New Zealand would also reduce the catch, and in turn bring down the value of certain fishing quota.

Seafood Industry Council general manager of trade and information Alastair Macfarlane spoke in favour of foreign charter fishing vessels, telling the inquiry the boats are an important part of the nation's fishing economy.

The Council of Trade Unions says it will be recommending that a chain of responsibility be established to link the holder of a fishing quota to the working conditions on vessels.