Reflagging foreign charter vessels for fair standards for fishing crews

The process of reflagging foreign charter fishing vessels under new legislation is near complete.
  Ten vessels originally flagged to Korea, Japan, Ukraine and Dominica have reflagged and two more are close to doing so. 
  Another nine will no longer fish in New Zealand waters.
  The successful reflaggings were a considerable achievement and have produced a change of culture, according to Maritime New Zealand standards general manager Sharyn Forsyth.
  From May 1 all FCVs were required to operate under the New Zealand flag and this country’s full legal jurisdiction.
  The requirement comes under the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Bill which was passed in 2014 with a two-year phase in period.
  The introduction of the new rules brings to a close a contentious issue that arose from allegations of widespread foreign crew abuse.
  “This is a new era for fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters and will help ensure fair standards for all fishing crews,” Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.
  “Reflagging gives us full jurisdiction over areas like employment and health and safety conditions.
  “This shows we are serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and New Zealand’s international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices.”
  The legislation was part of a range of measures that included compulsory individual New Zealand bank accounts for crew members; observers on all foreign-owned fishing vessels and independent audits to ensure crew visa requirements, including wages, are being adhered to.
  The role of observers, who are paid by the fishing industry through cost recovery levies, will be extended to include information about working and living conditions, health and safety, maritime safety and environmental discharge.
  Meanwhile the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington has confirmed there are 258 of its nationals employed on FCVs in New Zealand waters.
  The embassy acknowledged a claim by Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, reported in the Jakarta Post last November, that 61,000 Indonesian nationals were employed on foreign vessels operating in New Zealand was “obviously inaccurate”.
  Seafood NZ took issue with this claim and sought a correction.
  “New Zealand has been a reliable partner in our efforts to give better protection to migrant workers,” Lina Dilliane, first secretary, protocol and consular, said in a May 3 letter to Seafood NZ.
  She said Indonesian officials had received a comprehensive explanation about the New Zealand reflagging policy from the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.
  “They learnt that the reflagging policy is providing greater protection to the crew as they would be employed by a New Zealand-based company under employment agreements based on New Zealand laws. It ensures that any labour law breaches would be investigated and addressed.”