26 Mar 2012

MAF says too early to confirm observer outsourcing

10:08 am on 26 March 2012

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will not rule out whether the work of observers on commercial fishing vessels may be outsourced.

Following the release of a ministerial inquiry earlier in March, the Government said it wanted observers on all joint venture fishing vessels within a year.

The inquiry was initiated after allegations that some foreign crew working on fishing boats chartered to New Zealand companies have been mistreated and underpaid.

MAF deputy director-general Scott Gallacher says it is too early to determine whether the ministry would outsource parts of its observer programme.

Such a move would only be taken if it was deemed cost-effective and quality control could be ensured, he says.

Auckland University researcher Glenn Simmons says higher-skilled monitors could be gained by outsourcing the work. However, it would not save money, as the fishing industry currently pays for monitoring and would continue to do so.