Foreign fishing crew rules tightened

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 14:50 17/12/2012

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Immigration New Zealand has introduced what it calls tough new rules to protect foreign crews aboard foreign charter fishing vessels (FCVs).

The rules come follow publicity around widespread near-slave conditions aboard FCVs, which fish a large part of New Zealand's deep ocean quota.

Many crews were physically and sexually abused, served in appalling conditions and often were neither paid properly or when they were, had major deductions made from their wages.

After the revelations the Government set up a ministerial inquiry into FCVs and announced that by 2016 all of them would have to be re-flagged to New Zealand.

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the new rules would mean the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment could strengthen its monitoring and enforcement arrangements.

"The changes will mean better protection for employees and closer monitoring of employers. Importantly, each crew member must now have an individual bank account available so that wage payments can be made directly to them in New Zealand," Guy said.

Changes include requiring employers who recruit seven or more foreign crew to first apply for Approval in Principle to recruit foreign crew from the government.

The manning agents in countries like Indonesia would now be paid by the employer recruiting crews, not by crew members seeking jobs.

"These rules are contained in a new set of Immigration Instructions, which replace the Code of Practice for Foreign Fishing Crew," Guy said.

The new rules would be implemented as quickly as possible and would operate alongside the reflagging.

"This will mean these vessels will be subject to the full range of New Zealand law, including employment relations and workplace health and safety law."

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