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Ministerial Inquiry Into Foreign Charter Vessels

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NEW ZEALAND - A Ministerial Inquiry will consider the operation of Foreign Charter Vessels (FCVs) in New Zealands exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters.

Initiated by Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister, Phil Heatley and Labour Minister, Kate Wilkinson, the inquiry will consider all key issues relevant to the use of FCVs.

Mr Heatley says while full terms of reference for the inquiry have yet to be established, it is important for both the Government and our fishing sector to affirm New Zealands international reputation as a world-leading fisheries manager.

"To do this we need to ensure we are getting the best economic return from our deep sea fisheries, that robust employment protection provisions available on land are reflected at sea, and that the monitoring of FCVs and domestic deep sea operators in our waters is adequate," says Mr Heatley.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says reports alleging the failure of some FCVs to comply with proper employment requirements, including crew working conditions, and vessel safety standards imposed by New Zealand had raised the Governments concern.

"We also acknowledge the recent concerns expressed by the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) and others representing the interests of crew members regarding these issues," says Ms Wilkinson.

"We decided a Ministerial Inquiry was the appropriate course of action as a number of ministerial portfolios have an interest in FCV engagement and operation. Fisheries, labour, immigration, transport as well as foreign affairs and trade all have an involvement in this area," she says.

Cabinet will consider full terms of reference for the inquiry, independent candidates to lead the inquiry, resources and inquiry reporting time-frames over the next month.

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