Ban on foreign-flagged vessels could make New Zealand a world leader against slave conditions, says Anglican activist. Getty image.
New Zealand is poised to lead the way when it comes to ridding the fishing industry of slavery-like conditions.
The Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Labour have decided to ban foreign-flagged vessels from New Zealand waters.
The change will come into effect in four years.
Anglican Care social justice enabler Jolyon White is delighted.
"They re-flagged foreign vessels. They essentially make all boats working in New Zealand waters come under New Zealand law. It's extremely good news and it does mean that New Zealand will be able to lead the way in what actually is a really global problem."
He says this change should make New Zealand a world leader in cracking down on slavery-like conditions, but it won't be easy.
"The past has shown that we're not all that good at enforcing the laws we put in place around the New Zealand fishing industry so obviously we're extremely concerned about the next four years because there are people constantly being caught in these sorts of problems in our waters."
He says this is the best possible result for the industry.
Meanwhile, Sanford managing director Eric Barratt says the changes have come about because the actions of some operators have harmed New Zealand's reputation overseas.
He'd hoped the Government would get around the issue by excluding the irresponsible operators.
Mr Barratt says it'll be a long process to make the changes necessary to comply with the new law.
But CTU secretary Peter Conway welcomes the move, saying countless union submissions have highlighted the shocking treatment of workers and the need for more investment in onshore processing.
He says they're also advocating for more training so more New Zealand jobs can be created in the industry.
Mr Conway expects the unions to be working closely with the Government on this issue.
New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser also supports the move.
"We're pleased that the change has come about, we would've liked it to be initiated sooner and we'd like it to be initiated more quickly but we're happy that it's happening."
Mr Prosser says he'd like to see it done within 12 months.
Service and Food Workers' Union assistant national secretary Neville Donaldson says the announcement will have far-reaching benefits for the country.
"All New Zealand exports were starting to be brought under the shadow of the allegations around the mistreatment of foreign workers so I think this is a good step in the right direction for repairing New Zealand's international reputation."
Mr Donaldson believes the Government is being generous in implementing a four year transition period, because he thinks the changes for operators could be made in 12 to 18 months.
While supportive of the new approach, Labour MP Darien Fenton also wants to see it implemented faster.
"The main concern I've got is the four year period and that seems an awful long time and we have to ask what sort of abuses are going to continue to occur during that period."
Ms Fenton is sure that four-year period could be halved.