Finally, the results of the long awaited Ministerial Inquiry into the use of FCVs in New Zealand waters have been released. And what did it find? Well it found as TV lead in their heading: “Korean fishing boats damaging NZ reputation.”
Although the report did publicly acknowledge what many already knew; that some Korean CVs have indeed damaged New Zealand’s reputation (the Korean-registered fishing vessel (Oyang 70) below did arguably damage New Zealand’s reputation a little when it capsized and sank in calm waters 800 kilometres south-east of Dunedin, New Zealand in 2010), it didn’t offer any other surprises at all. In fact, I am even emboldened to say that we all anticipated all the international legal hiccups, that the report circumvents or lightly touches upon.
However personally I like no surprises. The findings show a holistic approach was taken (The 15 recommendations touch on a wide range of ministerial portfolios, including fisheries, labour, immigration, transport and foreign affairs and trade). Furthermore the recommendations seem not only doable, but also consistent with New Zealand’s international obligations. Now the ball is definitely in the Government’s court.
So What does the Government think of the Findings?
According to the Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson, the Government has resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters.
“The report is clear that the issues are not widespread in the New Zealand commercial fishing industry, but they are serious where they occur and need to be addressed in a co-ordinated manner, backed by legislative change...”
The Government has already decided to accept in principle, and act on, the Inquiry Panel’s first six recommendations. According to Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson;
“The recommendations include updating the Code of Practice and strengthening the immigration approval process – both of which will help ensure better conditions for workers on FCVs… We will also be adopting a recommendation that the New Zealand fishing companies chartering foreign vessels have to show the Code is being followed. This is a significant move as it puts the onus on those companies, rather than the Department of Labour, which currently has to prove the Code has been breached.”
The Department of Labour is also to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs and increase the frequency and thoroughness of inspections. MAF is to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs, including placing an observer on all FCVs fishing in New Zealand waters and considering non-fisheries offences when making FCV registration decisions. Maritime New Zealand is to strengthen enforcement of FCV compliance with maritime safety standards.
The remaining recommendations cover legislative amendments, ratifying international conventions, and significant policy changes. The Government is further considering the Inquiry Panel’s report and these recommendations before announcing any decisions.
What is the Seafood Industry’s take on the Report?
Generally it seems that the Seafood Industry hasn’t given much away. Peter Bodeker, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC), acknowledged that industry members will need time to review and work through the report’s recommendations, maintaining that:
“The inquiry’s findings will impact on some of our members’ operations and it is important they have time to work through this, alongside the relevant government agencies, to consider and implement any changes that are needed.”
- View the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into the use and operation of foreign charter vessels fishing in New Zealand waters, which was conducted from August 2011 to February 2012.
- See the frequently asked questions for the Ministerial Inquiry into the use and operation of foreign charter vessels on the MAF website.
For a list of the recomendations released by teh Ministerial Inquiry Click the link to a PDF below: List of Recommendations from the Ministerial Inquiry Report on FCVs
- Report calls for ‘urgent action’ to raise foreign fishing boat standards (nzherald.co.nz)
- Action of Fishing Abuses Escalates (Sunday Star Times. 03/03/2012)
- Korean groups protest fishing crew abuses (Fairfax NZ News. 17/08/2011)