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Foreign fishing boats required to reflag

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/04/2016

All foreign charter fishing vessels are now required to reflag to New Zealand and operate under its full jurisdiction.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy on Sunday announced reflagging gave the country control over areas such as employment, health and safety conditions on vessels fishing in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone.

"This is a new era for fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters and will help ensure fair standards for all fishing crews working in our waters," he said.

"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 new requirement comes under the Fisheries Bill passed in 2014, which set a deadline of May 1, 2016 for all vessels to reflag to New Zealand.

The changes were made after a number of cases involving alleged abuse of crew.

Indonesian crew members walked off the Korean-flagged Oyang 75 in 2011 alleging abuse, while a marine expert said serious safety failings led to the 2010 sinking of the Oyang 70, with a loss of six lives.

Maritime New Zealand will carry out the reflagging, which requires operators to ensure vessels are fully compliant with maritime rules and the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Crew are also required to have appropriate New Zealand-equivalent qualifications.

Nine foreign fishing vessels - from Japan, Korea, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Dominica - haven't reflagged

Three more vessels are in the process of being reflagged, and cannot fish in New Zealand waters until then, while nine more have decided not to fish in New Zealand waters.

A ministerial inquiry in 2012 examined questionable safety, labour and fishing practices on some foreign-owned vessels.

Measures already introduced include compulsory individual New Zealand bank accounts for crew members, observers on all foreign-owned fishing vessels, and independent audits on crew visas and wages.

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