Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has signalled he will dump a plan to exempt firms holding Maori fishing quota from a law change which outlaws the use of foreign flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand.
The exemption for Maori quota holders until 2020 was included in a bill to require all fishing vessels to re-flag and register in New Zealand by 2016 after Maori fisheries interests claimed it would be uneconomical to fish the quota if they could not continue to use foreign vessels.
However, Mr Guy has indicated he will pull the Maori quota amendment from the bill.
"It is important for our trading partners to know that we have unequivocally stamped out bad behaviour on our waters. I don't think the amended bill, as it stands, meets this objective."
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Council of Trade Unions' Maori spokesman Syd Keepa said: "We can not support exemptions that allow some ships to continue with slave labour conditions for four additional years beyond 2016 when the flagging requirements apply to the rest."
The Rail and Maritime Union also spoke out against it, saying while the 1992 Sealords fishery settlement was important for Maori, "to allow the continuing exploitation of a group of workers is also wrong".
Fisheries giant Talleys also objected, saying it allowed iwi to use foreign labour rather than develop a Maori industry.