A Japanese boat fishing in New Zealand waters will have to stump more than $97,000 in unpaid wages and a further $80,000 penalties after the Employment Relations Authority believed workers may have been "exploited".

Watarai Company was ordered to pay $97,715 and was penalised $80,000 for 18 employment law breaches by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Watarai owns and operates the fishing vessel "Koshin Maru 7", which was charted by New Zealand Japan Tuna.

According to ERA documents, pursuant to the chartering arrangement, Watarai supplied the Koshin Maru 7 with 6 Japanese crew and 18 Indonesian crew. While New Zealand Japan Tuna chartered the Koshin Maru 7, Watarai operated it.

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As a result, Watarai was deemed the employer of the crew.

Koshin Maru 7 undertook fishing operations in New Zealand waters for approximately two months between the end of April 2015 and late June 2015, the ERA said.

On June 29, 2015, a Labour Inspector requested wage and time records for the period between 20 May, 2015, and 23 June, 2015.

However, records provided by New Zealand Japan Tuna didn't match those of the Labour Inspector's calculations.

"On the evidence I heard from the Labour Inspector, I accept that the MPI records are more reliable and accurate. I conclude that the Labour Inspector's calculations of the hours worked by the Indonesian crew members and the shortfall of wages are correct," the authority said.

The authority said that based on the incorrect wage and time records provided by New Zealand Japan Tuna, the crew had been underpaid $97,715 and deprived of their minimum entitlements.

As a result, the authority determined that the breaches – 18 in total – amounted to an $80,000 fine.

"The failure to keep adequate records that then facilitates breaches of minimum standards is a serious breach," the ERA said.

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"The circumstances of the offending indicates that the employees were exploited and deprived of their minimum entitlements."