Fishing report released on foreign-owned fleets in NZ waters
A potentially contentious report depicting human rights and labour abuses of crew working on foreign-owned fishing fleets within New Zealand waters has been launched at The University of Auckland Business School this week.
Written by Management and International Business staff Dr Christina Stringer and Glenn Simmons, the report documents substandard conditions, verbal and physical abuse, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats, and absence of responsibility suffered by crew onboard particularly Korean fishing vessels.
Around 2000 foreign crew work on 27 foreign charter vessels inside New Zealand waters, and the official Government policy supports the use of foreign crew provided that they receive the same terms and conditions as New Zealanders.
However, the study found that crew working on New Zealand-flagged vessels earned up to 10 times more than their foreign counterparts, whose salary is paid to manning agents and who work on average 112 hours per week with shifts up to 53 hours in length and with no time off for two years.
“In the old days, slaves were not paid and chained, now we are paid and trapped…but we are worse than slaves,” one of the 143 crew or observers interviewed in New Zealand and Indonesia told the researchers.
The report authors say within the fisheries value chain, an institutional void pertaining to labour standards onboard foreign chartered vessels is tolerated.
“Serious physical, psychological and wage abuse is widespread on Korean vessels in New Zealand waters, and disturbing levels of inhumane conditions and practices have become routine or institutionalised,” they say.
The research alleges:
- Crew often beaten for little or no reason
- Inhumane punishment such as being made to stand on deck for hours without food or water in extreme weather conditions
- Sexual harassment, including rape
- Fatigue causing accidents and injuries, and lack of protective or safety gear
- Intimidation and threats involving crew and their families
- Substandard conditions including little or no heating, drinking water a brownish rusty colour, food supplies rationed, crew fed fish bait
- Denied medical treatment and accidents covered up or not reported
- Muslim workers called dogs, monkeys and other names.
- The report is part of ongoing research into the fisheries industry undertaken in the past 12 months by the Business School, including:
- Developing a profile of post-harvest offshore processing and implications for the New Zealand seafood industry
- Examining ways the New Zealand seafood industry can benefit from a market driven innovative focus.
- Investigating small-to-medium business growth and entrepreneurial abilities within the seafood processing industry.
The second part of the study will be released early next year.