Foreign flagged fishing ships now banned

May 2nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In a crackdown over unsafe and, at times, inhumane labour practices, all foreign fishing boats must now be reflagged with the New Zealand flag. 

The substantial law-change came into effect on Sunday, after a four-year transition period, and means all vessels operating in New Zealand waters must follow New Zealand law. 

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the change would ensure fair standards for all fishing crews in New Zealand.

This is a very very good thing. The conditions on some of the foreign flagged vessels were akin to slavery. The conditions were what you’d expect in North Korea, not vessels operating in NZ, catching NZ quota.

“Reflagging gives us full jurisdiction over areas like employment, health and safety conditions on vessels fishing in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The reflagging is carried out by Maritime New Zealand and requires operators to ensure fishing vessels fully comply with our maritime rules and the Health and Safety at Work Act. It also requires the crew to have appropriate New Zealand-equivalent qualifications,” Guy said.

Nine vessels so far had been reflagged, three were in the process of reflagging and could not fish in New Zealand waters until they had. 

About nine had decided not to fish in New Zealand waters, Guy said.

So 12 have or will reflag and nine will fish elsewhere.

The industry as a whole catches fish worth more than $650 million a year, the majority of it filling Maori iwi fishing quotas. The export industry is worth more than $1.5 billion a year. 

It is somewhat ironic that rather than use the quotas to create jobs for local Maori fishers, instead it was used to hire foreign vessels to do the fishing. Now that is their right to use the cheapest source of labour, so they get the best return on capital. But a useful reminder about how assumptions are not always correct about perceived benefits.

Slavery in our seas banned

August 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In its last act before the elections, Parliament today outlawed the practices behind slave-like fishing practices in New Zealand waters.

From May 2016, foreign charter fishing vessels (FCV) – some of which have committed human rights and labour abuses – will have to fly New Zealand flags and obey New Zealand laws.

This is excellent. I’ve written many times on this subject, demanding change. I was delighted when the Government announced they would requite ships catching NZ quota to be flagged in NZ, and it is great to see that decision given legislative force.

The abuses on some FCVs were horrendous – sexual abuse, near indenture, wages with illegal deductions. These may still happen in some areas, but no longer in NZ waters by boats catching NZ quota.

No exemptions for Maori quota

August 1st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has signalled he will dump a plan to exempt firms holding Maori fishing quota from a law change which outlaws the use of foreign flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand.

The exemption for Maori quota holders until 2020 was included in a bill to require all fishing vessels to re-flag and register in New Zealand by 2016 after Maori fisheries interests claimed it would be uneconomical to fish the quota if they could not continue to use foreign vessels.

However, Mr Guy has indicated he will pull the Maori quota amendment from the bill.

“It is important for our trading partners to know that we have unequivocally stamped out bad behaviour on our waters. I don’t think the amended bill, as it stands, meets this objective.”

That’s an excellent decision. The priority has to be stamping out the near slavery conditions.

I was quite critical of the select committee changes that would have given some quota holders a further four years before needing NZ flagged ships.


July 27th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori fishing quota holders will be exempt from legislation designed to protect migrant workers on foreign chartered vessels from exploitation.

The seven-year exemption has been attacked as “privileged” by Act MP John Banks but defended as essential by the iwi involved.

I’m with John Banks on this. Some FCVs have been little more than slave ships, and it is repugnant we have allowed it to continue. I was very proud of the decision by the Government to require vessels which fish NZ quota to be flagged in NZ – which means NZ law will apply to them.

But the transition period should and must be the same for all.

Ngapuhi’s Sonny Tau, who is the spokesman for iwi chairmen around the country on the issue, said the 2020 exemption was essential because without it Maori fishing interests guaranteed under the Sealords deal would be severely devalued.

Not a single iwi could afford to buy a ship, which was why fishing ventures with foreign vessels were key, Mr Tau said.

“If you reduce the capacity and you take out foreign chartered vessels in this country … that will … drive down quota prices. It will become uneconomic for a lot of the smaller iwi to even open an office to be involved in fishing.”

The purpose of the fisheries settlement was to allow Iwi to develop fishing jobs, skills and income. Not to sub-contract the quota to slave ships.

Different industries have a variety of favourable and unfavourable market conditions. Fishing is no different.

Under the law change, NZ quota can still be fished by foreign crewed vessels. They just must be flagged in NZ.  Under current NZ law they were required to pay NZ minimum pay rates anyway so in theory the flagging in NZ should not increase the costs – unless the FCVs have been breaking the law (which is clear)

One FCV reflagged

March 8th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Simon Bridges announced:

The first reflagging of a foreign charter fishing vessel as New Zealand-registered is good news for foreign crews fishing in our waters, and for New Zealand’s international reputation, say Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Labour Minister Simon Bridges.

The Ukrainian fishing vessel FV Mainstream, chartered by Independent Fisheries, was today officially reflagged, bringing it under New Zealand labour, and health and safety laws.

The reflagging, carried out by Maritime New Zealand, required Independent Fisheries to ensure the vessel fully complied with New Zealand maritime rules and the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Reflagging also requires the crew to have appropriate New Zealand-equivalent qualifications.

“The Government is committed to making it compulsory for all foreign charter fishing vessels to be reflagged by 2016, following concerns raised in a Ministerial inquiry last year into safety, labour, and fishing practices,” says Mr Guy.

Mr Bridges says reflagging brings the crew of foreign charter vessels under the protection of New Zealand law in terms of labour conditions and health and safety.

This is a welcome step that one ship has already reflagged.

The conditions on some FCVs was akin to slavery. There was physical and sexual abuse as well as multiple breaches of NZ laws (which could not be enforced). It had to end, and I’m proud the Government decide to do so.

Not all FCVs were a problem. In fact as I understand it the Ukranian ones had relatively few problems. It tended to be the Korean ones than used Indonesian labour. What will be interesting is when they reflag – if they do at all.

Human Trafficking in NZ

January 10th, 2013 at 10:12 am by David Farrar

Did you know NZ is not immune to human trafficking? A new website provides information on the problem, both globally and locally. It is called the modern day slave trade, and should be ended. Some stats you may not know:

1. There are currently more slaves than at any other time in history – with some estimates of the number being as high as twenty-seven-million.

2. Sex trafficking is one of the three largest industries, coming after the arms and drugs industries. It is estimated to be worth around $32 billion.

3. Many slaves are between the ages of 12 and 14.

4. In many cases, children are sold by their own parents due to extreme poverty. Many parents feel that they have no choice but to sell one of their children in order to provide for the rest of the family. 

5. In some countries, such as India, children are sold in to the sex trade as part of a religious tradition. These children are sold to temples as ‘gifts’ at ages as young as eight years old. These girls are then used by priests for their sexual pleasure, and then later on sold again to brothels.

6. 68% of female sex trafficking victims meet the clinical critera for post-traumatic stress disorder – many of these victims are not rescued, and therefore do not receive the treatment they need.

7. One of the biggest causes of sex trafficking is poverty. This is because in severe cases people begin to feel desperate and are willing to take more dangerous risks in search of a better life.

8. Only 1 – 2% of victims are ever rescued according to

9. In many countries police officers are extremely corrupt and therefore contributed towards the problem of sex trafficking. Countries such as India and Cambodia have seen police officers and government officials contribute towards the growth of the industry as they are frequent customers of such brothels and make very little effort to enforce any anti-trafficking laws. 

10. Around half of the trafficking victims in the world are under the age of 18. And the average age of a trafficking victim is just 12 years old.

11. Children who have been trafficked are far more likely to develop mental health problems, as well as engage in substance abuse and engage in prostitution once they are adults.

12. Many trafficking victims are scared to seek help because they fear that the traffickers will hurt their families, or that they will be deported and treated as criminals.

 Alas, while the world has improved in so many ways in the last 100 years, there is still a huge amount more to be done.