1 Aug 2014

Crewman welcomes fishing boat law

8:58 am on 1 August 2014

A crew member who had to work round-the-clock shifts on a foreign charter fishing vessel is delighted the boats are now under New Zealand employment legislation.

A bill passed into law by Parliament on Thursday will make foreign-owned fishing boats adopt New Zealand labour and safety laws by 2016.

Skipper sorting catch aboard North Sea trawler off the coast of northern England.

Photo: REUTERS

The legislation will only allow fishing companies to use foreign charter vessels if they are flying the New Zealand flag - which means they are subject to New Zealand regulations. Any foreign vessel in New Zealand waters will have to pay minimum wage and allow workers to take breaks.

The law was prompted by a ministerial inquiry in 2012 into questionable safety, labour, and fishing practices on some foreign-owned vessels.

Ye Aung was subjected to abuse as a crew member of a Korean fishing vessel and said the law change was great news

"It will be really good for the other fishermen too. If they follow the New Zealand rules it will be really good for them," he said.

Maritime Union general secretary Joe Fleetwood said the change was well-overdue.

Fishing nets bring up a fresh catch of hoki.

Fishing nets bring up a fresh catch of hoki. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Sealord Group will continue to use three Ukrainian vessels to help catch low-value product such as squid and hoki.

Chief executive Graham Stuart said some vessels will inevitably stop fishing in New Zealand waters.

"As a consequence, there will probably be fish left uncaught in the New Zealand fishery. That's just a consequence that's unavoidable," he said.

The managing director of Talley's Fisheries, Peter Talley, said he could not understand why fishing companies used foreign vessels in the first place.

"New Zealand vessels have got all skills and knowledge and are capable of catching the fish. So why would you hire foreign nationals to do the work when there are so many New Zealanders looking for work," he said.

Slave Free Seas charitable trust founder Craig Tuck said the law is huge step forwards for human rights.