Management of foreign charter fishing vessels tightened
24 June 2008
Improvements have been made to the regime governing foreign charter fishing vessels following a major review, Ministry of Fisheries Chief Executive Wayne McNee announced today.
The regime was reviewed after concerns were raised about the safety, standard and operation of foreign fishing vessels chartered by New Zealanders to fish in New Zealand waters.
“The New Zealand government supports the use of foreign charter vessels but that support is not unconditional,” Mr McNee said.
“With rights come responsibilities and New Zealand companies that wish to use foreign charter vessels must ensure that they are up to standard and do not pose a threat to the sustainability of our fisheries or the integrity of our management system.”
The changes to the management regime fall within four main areas:
- A minimum standard for the provision of food, accommodation and amenities for Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) observers on board, including minimum requirements for observer cabins and sanitary facilities and a minimum head height of 1.9 metres in the area of an observer’s factory work-station.
- A risk based approach to placing observers on vessels, with increased levels of observer coverage on vessels considered high risk.
- Greater safety assurance through increased cooperation with Maritime New Zealand.
- Improved registration and approval processes including more rigorous risk assessment and screening of foreign vessels and crew and compulsory pre-registration inspection by fishery officers.
“The changes are designed to ensure the integrity of the quota management system and provide a safe and secure working environment for MFish observers,” Mr McNee said.
The new regime has been extensively consulted on with the fishing industry. A review group comprising MFish staff and representatives of major fishing companies and different sectors of the fishing industry that use foreign charter vessels has worked on developing the new requirements. The proposals were then consulted on publicly so all views could be considered before Mr McNee made his final decisions.
“I thank the fishing industry for the positive attitude they have taken to this review and their willingness to work with government to address the issues, even when this may result in increased costs for them,” said Mr McNee.
“I am satisfied the new regime will provide the New Zealand fishing industry with the flexibility it needs to operate efficiently and use foreign charter vessels without compromising the safety of MFish observers or the management of our valuable fish stocks.”
It will be a legal requirement to comply with the new regime. Any vessels that do not comply with the minimum requirements or are considered to pose an unacceptable risk will not be registered to fish in New Zealand. Any registered vessel that breaches the regime will be ordered to remedy the situation and may be prosecuted or denied re-registration.
The new regime comes into effect on 1 July 2008 with fishers given one year to fully implement the new requirements.