NEW ZEALAND: documentary on NZ fishing practices

A documentary titled “The Great New Zealand Fishing Scandal” is making a lot of noise in that great fishing nation.

The main theme of the documentary, made by the investigative journalist Guy Henderson, are the fishing practices by foreign vessels that are allowed to harvest fish in NZ waters on behalf of domestic companies.

According to the New Zealand press the documentary shows foreign factory vessels (with foreign crews) chartered by New Zealand companies to catch fish under the quota (e.g. of orange roughy) of the latter.

Some of the comments made in the aforementioned press echo a certain degree of discontent, as such practices can result in New Zealanders being deprived of jobs in the fishing industry. Furthermore the documentary seems to point to an alleged lack of control on the operations of these foreign vessels.

New Zealand’s Maritime Union has asked for a Parliamentary investigation on this matter.

At any rate, New Zealand is a strong competitor in international trade in fisheries products. The New Zealand government has always contended that it does not provide subsidies to its fishing industry. It is thus to the credit of private operators that they try to do their utmost to lower their cost to remain competitive in the international markets, including by hiring foreign vessels that are less expensive to operate than domestic vessels.

I tried to find an official reaction to the documentary but without success. I would very much welcome if readers can provide me with information on a reaction from New Zealand’s authorities, or from NZ companies, to the documentary.

By the way, this documentary reminds me of a number of articles, back in 2006, about criticism by Maoris on proposal by the government to regulate the salaries paid in these foreign chartered vessels.

Here a few links on the contents of the documentary.


An interview (in MP3 format) with the maker of the documentary can be found here.


Information on NZ’s legislation concerning treatment of foreign chartered vessel crews can be found here:


Here is a link to an article published in the “Australia and New Zealand Maritime Law Journal” Vol 23, No 1 (2009) titled “Modern Day Slavery: Employment Conditions For Foreign Fishing Crews In New Zealand Waters” written by Jennifer Ann Devlin.


And here is a link on Maori’s criticism to setting foreign crew wages at the same level as NZ‘s ones


No comments: