$300 million at stake if FCVs forced out

04:27, Jul 31 2013
SONNY TAU: Says New Zealand will lose $300 million if foreign charter fishing vessels with low-wage Asian crews are made to leave.

New Zealand will lose $300 million if foreign charter fishing vessels with low-wage Asian crews are made to leave, prominent iwi leader Sonny Tau claims.

Maori will also suffer significantly by losing quota value, he added.

The chairman of Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi, Tau confirmed it was his iwi and their lawyers who succeeded in winning a late exemption for Maori to be allowed to continue using foreign charter fishing vessels (FCVs) after 2016, when all other fishing companies will be forced to fly New Zealand flags.

He dismissed claims by ACT leader John Banks that the Fisheries Amendment Bill was racially based legislation giving Maori special privilege.

"He needs to understand the history of the country and he needs to understand where they come from as an iwi, as opposed to where we were in 1840," Tau told Fairfax Media.

"That is all he needs to understand why we fight so hard."

He said only Ngapuhi, Sealord Fisheries and Sanford, all with Maori quota, would benefit from the exemption.

Tau was insistent only Korean boats will fish for squid in the Southern Ocean, a claim rejected by Talley's Fisheries chief executive Peter Talley who said his boats, those of Sealord and private boats also fish for squid.

Human and labour rights abuses have been discovered on FCVs, which mostly fish iwi quota. In response, the Government last year introduced a bill requiring all fishing boats to reflag.

In a late move after submissions had been heard, the primary production select committee changed the bill to allow iwi with Treaty of Waitangi settlement quota to continue using FCVs.

Talley said yesterday that if the bill becomes law, New Zealand will face international boycotts of its fishing product.

"It is a national scandal that Maori, given settlement quota for the purpose of bringing young Maori into the business of fishing are now given a preferential right to use Third World foreign labour to harvest those very resources," Talley told Fairfax Media.

Tau was unapologetic about the late changes.

"I guess that is the job of the select committee."

Select committee officials had consulted with iwi officials and made changes, he said.

"We are not completely happy with the outcome; we think they have taken a sledgehammer to a walnut ... It gives us time to catch up with the rest of the fleet."

One of the biggest iwi quota fishing companies has been Sajo Oyang, of South Korea.

Tau said Korean companies have "tax issues" in Korea and if New Zealand made it too hard, then they would not come here.

"The fact is Korean fishers are the only fishers in the world that fish New Zealand squid quota," Tau said, claiming that Talley's had tried but couldn't fish it.

Talley dismissed that, saying that Korea placed tariff barriers on New Zealand-caught squid.

"Mr Tau also conveniently forgot to mention that squid caught by Korean vessels in the New Zealand fishery is exported to Korea free of duty and import tariffs, whereas squid caught by New Zealand-owned and crewed vessels must pay 22 per cent import duty when exporting to the Korean market."

Tau said the bill had gone too far and all that was needed was for FCVs to be "deemed" to be New Zealand boats while in our waters. That way they would have to follow labour and human rights laws.

"We would never condone and have absolutely no tolerance for people who do not follow the rules."

Talley yesterday called the redrafted bill "racially biased legislation", and said it would allow 35 per cent of New Zealand entire fishing resource to be fished by FCVs.

He said Tau seemed not to know that the Russian and Ukrainian boats operated as joint venture vessels are the largest catches of squid quota in New Zealand.

They were operated by Sealord.

Talley's vessels had been targeting squid every year for the past 15 years with two factory trawlers. They also bought fresh landings of squid from private trawlers in Timaru.


Fairfax Media