Time for lid to be lifted on fishing industry disgrace

The Maritime Union says the shipjumping of eight Indonesians in Wellington from the fishing vessel ‘San Liberatore’ was entirely predictable as the ship had a history of problems.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the Union had to intervene on two occasions this year when overseas crew members on the ‘San Liberatore’ were being made to do waterfront work normally done by New Zealand workers.

“There have been Government reports saying there is abuse going on aboard these fishing vessels in New Zealand waters – why don’t we put the spotlight on the companies operating these vessels, rather than the workers?”

He says that immigration officials face an impossible job unless the rules governing the industry are tightened up.

Mr Hanson says that sooner or later the lid is going to be lifted on the practices going on in the industry.

“When it blows, there are going to be people running for cover, because the practices that are going on are totally unacceptable.”

Mr Hanson says the Australian Government together with WWF International and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) released a report in November that clearly identifies the environmental damage and exploitation of workers going on aboard “flag of convenience” fishing vessels.

He says the Australian Government has just announced a $220 million package to buy back fishing licenses and restructure the industry to make it sustainable.

Mr Hanson says under the proposed free trade agreements New Zealand is negotiating, the maritime industry may be flung open allowing the worst operators even greater access, with no ability to restrict their activities or stop the exploitation of cheap Third World labour.

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