Published the Sunday Star-Times Sunday 10 April,2011.
Michael Fields story Slavery At Sea is a sad indictment of things that should not be happening anywhere in the world let alone in Aotearoa .
The New Zealand regulatory authorities who turn a blind eye and the Iwi owned companies who choose to exploit third world people are both culpable .They also threaten the viability of the domestic companies and the employment of New Zealanders.
Fishing is a major industry in New Zealand and one that should employ more people . The quota system was designed to manage fish stocks but was also intended to sustain employment .
Our deep sea fishing fleet is in trouble if there is no investment is ships or plant . That Talley’s ships are now over twenty years old is a real concern for the local industry, and threatens the regional economy of ports like Nelson .The competition that is affecting the viability of the local industry is from locally owned Iwi companies.
These Iwi owned companies do have choices they do not have to operate as they do.
Maori have a strong fishing tradition and culture in fact many work for Talley’s.
These Iwi owned companies have the possibility of being responsible players in the industry and be known for a high quality operation. They could own their own ships and processing plants . To employ and provide a real career path for their Iwi members in all the seafaring skills in engineering , deck and master mariner tickets as well as catering would achieve for them the mana that Ngai Tahu have achieved in Tourism.
With these tickets and the opportunities there are many who would choose to work internationally in well regarded maritime companies or in their shore based manufacturing plants where there would be management positions for them too.
Perhaps the first step is to have an industry conference to develop a future for the industry and in the first instance to clean up the untenable problems that exist in the industry.
Minster Heatley this is called leadership.