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)

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