Foreign-flagged fishing vessels will not be able to fish in New Zealand waters in four years, the Government has announced.

The vessels will have to be reflagged to New Zealand, meaning the full range of New Zealand law, including employment relations and workplace health and safety law, will automatically apply and be enforceable.

The rule change will come into effect after a four year transition period.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson made the announcement today, after the skipper and factory manager of Korean fishing Oyang 77 was charged with illegal dumping of fish last week. Crew members on another Korean vessel, Oyang 75, have alleged they were subject to physical and sexual abuse.


Today's announcement follows recommendations made by the Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels.

Mr Carter said reflagging will "strengthen compliance with New Zealand laws and provide more transparency around the operation of foreign-owned vessels".

"We are already moving to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of FCVs, including placing an observer on all FCVs fishing in New Zealand waters.

"The Government continues to welcome foreign charter fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters, but they must meet our requirements and our standards," he said.

Ms Wilkinson said reflagging will provide "greater protection to the crew as they will be employed by a New Zealand-based party under a New Zealand employment agreement".

"If breaches of labour law occur - such as underpayment of wages or illegal deductions or breaches of the Code of Practice, the Department of Labour will be able to investigate them and take action. Maritime New Zealand is responsible for investigating any unsafe workplace practices."

The ministers said foreign crews will be protected during the four-year transition period with stronger monitoring and enforcement, including tougher independent audits of the New Zealand charter parties, safety monitoring on vessels and increased and enhanced on-board observer coverage.