Crew members from a Nelson-based Talley's ship say they feel violated after their hair was shaved to comply with company drug-testing.

More than 12 workers allegedly had their hair chopped and sent away for testing on Thursday after P was reportedly found onboard during a recent voyage, Newshub reported.

An unnamed employee who had his hair shaved has called for Talley's to issue an apology.

"I just want my hair sample to be destroyed and a, 'Sorry, we messed up, we didn't actually know it wasn't in your contracts'.


"Quite simply, I don't want my hair test being sent to a foreign country and tested ... and the fact that we were forced to undergo a hair sample test is a bit over the top," he told Newshub.

The man said the hair samples taken from the crew were large.

"They had to take - from memory - it was one-and-a-half inches long and it had to be the same thickness as an average straw."

Another worker said it was "implied we'd lose our jobs" if workers refused to be tested.

"A lot of us are here to just change our lives and get off the drugs. Who cares what happened three months ago?"

However, Talley's denied implying that employees who did not submit a hair sample would be dismissed.

General manager Tony Hazlett told Newshub the company had a "vigilant and hard line" policy about drug-use on its vessels.

"The zero stance policy on drugs is well known amongst sea-going staff and openly welcomed by most of them. Indeed we now have some senior skippers seeking more regular hair testing given the shortcomings of urine testing with P detection."

Drugs had been discovered onboard Talley's vessels only twice in 40 years, Hazlett said.

Nelson police investigated the latest discovery and removed the methamphetamine from the ship, but attempts to find out who brought the drugs onboard were unsuccessful.

As well as calling police, Talley's also searched crew members' cabins, brought in a drug sniffer dog and interviewed employees, Newshub reported.

Talley's Drug and Alcohol Management Procedure document from June reads: "Any other testing deemed necessary which includes but is not limited to saliva, sweat, blood or hair analysis."

The samples have been sent to the United States for testing, but the results have yet to come back.

Kirk Hardy, chief executive of Drug Detection Agency, told Newshub it was important for fishing companies to ensure employees are safe at sea.

"If something goes wrong, someone could potentially die and because they are at sea for such long periods you need something that has that long detection window."

However, Hardy said only a small amount of hair needed to be tested to detect drugs.

A spokesperson from the New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild said Talleys workers were not members of the guild and were unable to comment further.