20 October 2006
New Zealand implements visa changes for foreign fishing crew
New Zealand Immigration has announced new measures aimed at improving the working conditions of foreign fishing crew on chartered foreign fishing vessels in New Zealand.
The crew of charter vessels in New Zealand waters are almost always foreign, generally from Asia or Eastern Europe, and at times have experienced poor living and working conditions, with wages set at the bare minimum.
The low wages such workers receive often precludes domestic fishing industry workers from taking jobs on board the vessels, and the Government has now acted to align wages with market rates, protect the living and working conditions of FCV crew, ensure the foreign charter partner and New Zealand charter partner are compliant with the mandatory Code of Practice and enable foreign crew to settle employment disputes in New Zealand.
The new minimum requirements for the grant of visas and permits to foreign fishing crew now include the following:
- Compliance with a new Code of Practice on Foreign Fishing Crew which contains improved minimum working and living conditions, a new minimum remuneration requirement and a new accountability framework. All New Zealand charter partners will be required to be signatories to the Code of Practice.
- A Deed of guarantee of financial obligations in respect of foreign crew will be required from an acceptable New Zealand party before Approval in Principle will be granted for the recruitment of foreign crew. Approvals in Principle are granted on a case by case basis and enable the hiring of foreign crew for a set period, when New Zealanders are unavailable for the work.
- A gradually increasing level of required remuneration for foreign crew. The minimum remuneration requirement will be increased over the next three years to a level which is more comparable with domestic fishing crew, as specified in the Code of Practice.
- That the Government will be able to undertake onboard inspections to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice regarding employment conditions.
- That the charter partners will be required to keep and make available accurate employment records.