NZ passes reflagging law for foreign vessels
The New Zealand Parliament passed a law today strengthening regulations for foreign-owned commercial fishing vessels operating in local waters, a move that earned praise from some government officials.
The bill, labeled the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, passed its third reading, and will take effect as law on 1 May 2016. Among other stipulations, the law will require foreign vessels operating in New Zealand waters to carry the New Zealand flag. It will also extend the New Zealand fishing regulations to those vessels.
This means, according to Nathan Guy, New Zealand’s minister for primary fisheries, the New Zealand government will now have the right to enforce rules regarding labor, vessel safety, discharge/pollution and other matters, even on foreign-owned vessels.
“This bill will help maintain our reputation around the world. It shows that we are serious about the fair treatment of fishing crews, the safety of vessels and New Zealand’s international reputation for ethical and sustainable fishing practices,” Guy said. “This will give us full jurisdiction over areas like employment and labour conditions on vessels fishing in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It will help ensure fair standards for all fishing crews working in our waters.”
Tim Parkhurst, chief executive of local industry group Seafood New Zealand, said the industry backs the new law, which will ensure everyone, no matter what country they are from, plays by New Zealand’s rules.
“Reflagging is now the law,” he said. “The deepwater fishery is in good heart, our stocks are sustainable and we look to maximize our opportunities in international markets with this long running distraction removed.”