Tough new rules for all fishing vessel operators who employ foreign crews in New Zealand’s waters are now in force. The changes come from the Ministerial Inquiry into foreign chartered vessels (FCVs), which recommended that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment should strengthen its monitoring and enforcement arrangements.
‘The changes will mean better protection for employees and closer monitoring of employers. Importantly, each crew member must now have an individual bank account available so that wage payments can be made directly to them in New Zealand,’ said Immigration Minister Nathan Guy. There are other changes as well which include introducing maximum timeframes for fishing companies to provide information for audits and investigations and the implementation of a fit and proper person test.
Any employer who recruits seven or more foreign crew will also need to first apply for approval in principle to recruit foreign crew and manning agents must only be paid by the employer recruiting crew, not by a crew member seeking a job. The changes also mean that the Deep Sea Fishing Crew Employment Register will be replaced with the standard immigration labour market test.
The New Zealand Charter Party is to be the guarantor for crew wages and any costs to the Crown, such as deportation. Guy pointed out that the new rules apply equally to all fishing vessel operators, from the inshore fishing sector through to foreign chartered vessels.
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‘These rules are contained in a new set of Immigration Instructions, which replace the Code of Practice for Foreign Fishing Crew. The Government has asked MBIE and other agencies to act as quickly as possible to implement the recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry,’ he said, adding, ‘As part of this, all foreign owned vessels will be required to reflag to New Zealand after a four year transition period. This will mean these vessels will be subject to the full range of New Zealand law, including employment relations and workplace health and safety law’.