Fisheries workers bearing a 12,000 signature told a select committee yesterday the horror stories of abuse of foreign workers on fishing vessels, whose low wages displace Kiwi workers, how the focus on low-cost, low-quality that is wasting our fish stocks, and how this is caused by Kiwi corporates putting a quick buck ahead of their people and their environment.
The most galling aspect of this is that iwi are the major owners of fishing quotas. I find it hard to believe that the Maori leaders who fought for so long to have their rights to their taonga restored under the Treaty ever thought that a new corporate iwi class would emerge who would rather save a few bucks by getting virtual slave labour from asia to do the fishing, rather than employ their own people, who are suffering from double digit unemployment and the social malaise it brings.
If iwi and other quota holders won’t show some responsibility, the answer is to legislate that any worker working within our EEZ has the same wage and working condition rights as any other worker in New Zealand and make it illegal for a quota holder to contact with a foreign company to do the fishing. Quotas should also be subject to confiscation by the government if quota holders do not manage the fisheries responsibly for maximum value.