Foreign Flagged Fishing Boats To Be Banned In New Zealand

[First published by 22nd May 2012]

Foreign flagged fishing boats are to be banned In New Zealand over labour, safety and fisheries concerns.

The Government announced the surprise decision this afternoon amid ongoing controversy over abuses on the boats.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said foreign-flagged fishing vessels would no longer be able to legally operate in New Zealand waters after a four-year transition period.

"The Government's decision sends a clear message that New Zealand is serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and its international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices," the ministers said.

Boats will have to be reflagged with New Zealand flags which will require them to meet New Zealand standards and requirements.

Legislation will be introduced to amend the Fisheries Act by the end of the year.

The changes will effect the 12 out of 27 New Zealand fishing companies which use foreign chartered ships.

Carter said the Government acknowledged there would be an economic impact on the companies affected but detailed analysis of the cost had not been completed.

Last year all 32 Indonesian crew on the Korean Oyang 75 walked off the fishing vessel alleging sexual and physical abuse.

A New Zealand joint ministerial inquiry earlier this year found Korean fishing charters were damaging New Zealand's international reputation.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has laid eight charges of illegally dumping fish overboard against the Oyang 77 which is owned by Korea's largest fishing company, Sajo Oyang.

Its sister ship Oyang 75 already faces 26 charges of dumping fish.

The Korean Embassy said yesterday an inter-departmental delegation would arrive in New Zealand over the next few weeks to investigate concerns with Korean-owned fishing ships.

Carter said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was today briefing the Korean government on the changes.