Outsourcing fishing observers role is dangerous for the industry

Maritime Union of NZ General Secretary, Joe Fleetwood, said today that the government is vandalising the New Zealand fishing industry with plans to contract out the fishing observers for fishing vessels.

Joe Fleetwood says “the fishing industry is already awry with cowboy ship captains riding rough-shot over workers rights on the boats, we’ve had too many examples of slave labour, abuse and over-fishing in the industry.”

“We need more supervision and enforcement on the ships fishing our waters, not less. Outsourcing this role may lead to observers being paid by the industry on a ‘go on, stay on’ basis like the foreign crews are. It won’t work – contracted out observers will simply become like many of the other workers out there on the ships – bullied and not able to do their job properly.”

“We’ve called for two observers per shift for example, four per vessel, to be funded by the industry and employed through the government. The observers play an important role – they are placed on commercial fishing boats to ensure the laws surrounding fishing and living conditions on vessels are upheld. This proposal from the government vandalises the New Zealand fishing industry – if the company can pick and choose who provides the observer role then it will be to the detriment of the industry and those who work in it.”

“Contracting out this vital role compromises the observers independence and may lead to further abuses of our labour laws and environmental standards on fishing ships in NZ waters,” said Fleetwood.

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