20 October 2006

New Zealand implements visa changes for foreign fishing crew

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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:

The Department of Labour grants Approvals in Principle to employ foreign crew if there are no New Zealand fishing crew members available or insufficient numbers of New Zealand crew.

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