18 Feb 2013

Fisheries Bill costly for iwi, says Maori Fisheries Trust

10:17 pm on 18 February 2013

The Maori Fisheries Trust says iwi stand to lose up to $10 million a year if a bill before Parliament on the activities of foreign fishing vessels operating under the New Zealand flag is passed unchanged.

Allegations of mistreatment and the under-payment of crews on the foreign ships prompted the introduction of the Fisheries Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters Amendment Bill, which had its first reading on 14 February.

Te Ohu Kaimoana chief executive Peter Douglas says there are some draconian measures in the bill.

He says it includes provision for the registration of a fishing vessel to be suspended, cancelled or refused on the basis of suspicion, rather than hard evidence, that the operator is not adhering to the regulations.

Mr Douglas says he does not condone lousy conditions for fishers, but preventing or penalising charter fishing vessels from operating based on suspicion breaches natural justice.

He says the issue is one of the most important facing iwi in 2013 and they need to make submissions on the bill to the Primary Production Select Committee.