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'HOLIER THAN THOU'

This morning a most shocking report landed on the NAUTICAL LOG desk.  Frankly being so appalled we had to carefully research and read up on the issue to actually believe it was happening in a country we had lived and worked in some 50 years ago - New Zealand.

When it comes to environmental issues New Zealand presents itself as a paradise for eco-touring and eco-adventures.  In addition it makes a public stand on saving whales by financially supporting, offering berths in its Ports, fuelling and resupplying the eco-terrorist group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  When it comes to human resources, particularly non-kiwi foreign nationals it could care less. 

What is going on?  We shall explain about New Zealand's "Slavery at sea exposed" to quote the national newspaper "Sunday Star*Times" www.sstlive.co.nz/ .  The following are comments with quotes based on their article "Slavery at sea exposed":

Alerted to terrible conditions on foreign (non-New Zealand) fishing vessels after nearly 30 persons lost their lives the newspaper started asking questions.  Government papers apparently marked SECRET revealed that the NZ Government has allowed fishermen from poor countries to be exploited in New Zealand EEC Waters.  The value of the fishing industry is $1.4 billion (yes billion) a year of which these slavers take a large part.  How is it done?  Well some knowledge of New Zealand history and more modern "correction of its abuses" so-called is required.  One should note that ALL the catch regardless of whom it is caught by New Zealanders or foreigners is sold as "Produce of New Zealand".



Trawler No.1 Insung
 
Trawler Oyang 70
The Treaty of Waitangi was the beginning of peace between the Maori and the pakiha settlers of New Zealand.  Of course as seems to be standard in these agreements the Maori were cheated out of an equal share of things at the time of signing these were corrected in modern times and known as settlements.  Under the Treaty of Waitangi settlements the Maori were allocated fishing quotas under the Sealords Deal.  Since many of the Maori no longer bother or can afford fishing vessels they contract out their quota to foreign fishing companies - 21 last year.  New Zealand companies who have to compete with these quota companies have stated referring to the quota companies "They do not care about Filipinos, Indonesians and Ukrainians on the vessels".   Indeed they do not as the NZ Governments own papers, which show a high level of awareness, record and were obtained under the Official Information Act of New Zealand.

 According to these records crewmembers have been beaten with fists and objects such as hammers, are not fed if the catch that day is poor, and deprived of sleep to continue fishing when the catches are good.  Medical aid is withheld until it suits the fishing managers.  The vessels themselves are often in terrible condition.  Two vessels sank last year the 38 year-old Oyang 70 with six lives and the 31 year-old No.1 Insung operating out of Bluff (the port for Invercargill, South Island) with 22 lives in the Ross Sea.  The average age of these quota vessels is 25 year.  The average age of the New Zealand vessels themselves is 22 years not good and which surprised NAUTICAL LOG quite considerably.

Those quota New Zealanders involved refuse to recognise any responsibility and say they contract out their quota to fishing agents.  As indeed did the New Zealand Government itself when the Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley refused to comment on the concerns raised by the "Sunday Star-Times" describing them as "operational" before directing the newspaper to acting immigration head Stephan Dunstan.  Dunstan said that in 2006 a Code of Practice for foreign crews was revised, requiring employment deals to "align" with New Zealand standards.  He then said the that this was really the responsibility of Maritime NZ.  Clearly the "Buck stops here" does not apply in the New Zealand Government - what a bunch of no-hopers!!  One tends to wonder just what those standards are under the circumstances - most certainly they are not being enforced.  The Maritime Safety Agency did not respond to requests for information.

It would seem to NAUTICAL LOG that any advances gained  for seafarers by seafarers in the middle of the 20th. Century are steadily declining and certainly that hopeless International Maritime Organization (IMO), with its numbers and voluminous paperwork, and the various Flag States and Port States could actually care less about the seafarers themselves.  Currently many if not most seafarers are working under poorer overall conditions than 50 years ago. 

And just in passing let us NOT ignore that much the same goes on from the Ports of the Last Frontier State of Alaska in our own United States of America using old boats and lower 48 crews - who are often non-fishermen.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

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