The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Port State Measures Agreement is designed to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Maritime Union National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says New Zealand still has a long way to go to fix systemic problems in the fishing sector.
“The consistent theme is that illegal fishing is often linked to exploitation of crew members and other abuses.”
He says the full enforcement of current laws and regulations was still required.
New Zealand is the ninth country to ratify the agreement, which requires 25 ratifications to come into force.
Despite the Government announcement in 2012 that Foreign Charter Vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters would have to be reflagged to the New Zealand flag by 2016, bringing them under the full range of New Zealand law, there have been ongoing problems in the industry.
Recent examples include a serious injury to a New Zealand Government observer on a FCV resulting in the amputation of an arm in January this year, and raids by authorities on FCVs in Timaru for suspected illegal activity in 2013.
Two FCVs with histories of crew problems have incurred substantial costs to the taxpayer after being seized by authorities in Dunedin for illegal fishing.
“New Zealand is a maritime nation and we depend on the ocean for our livelihood. We must treat it and those who work on it with respect and care,” said Mr Fleetwood.