The FINANCIAL — University of Auckland Business School researchers responsible for studies that contributed to a major shake-up of the foreign chartered fishing fleet in New Zealand waters are pleased that the Government will take on board some of their recommendations.
According to the University of Auckland, senior lecturer Dr Christina Stringer and PhD student Glenn Simmons from the Department of Management and International Business say the changes prompted by the Ministerial Inquiry will be far reaching and hopefully generate a “clear and shared sense of direction” for the New Zealand fishing industry.
The pair, who spent nearly two years researching conditions on board mainly Korean-run fishing vessels in New Zealand waters, say the recommendations released late last week are validation of their research, which has shocked the nation over the past nine months.
“Ultimately, this will be very good for New Zealand’s economic growth, as it provides a concrete foundation to transform fisheries into a high performing industry. You need sound and transparent labour standards if you want high performing industries,” Dr Stringer says.
“We are also grateful that the panel led by Paul Swain built on the findings of our research to craft a bold and laudable report. They have had the courage and tenacity to recommend a new framework for a key primary industry in New Zealand – recommendations that will encourage producers to move from a low-road ‘price taker’ approach towards a high-road industry producing high-value-added products.”
Mr Simmons says the recommendations present a rare opportunity for change in the industry, including business models. “Our message to fishing companies is this: don’t fear these changes.”
The research, which found evidence of physical, mental and sexual abuse along with wage anomalies amongst mainly Indonesian fishermen, has piqued the interest of media and government officials both here and overseas.
Mr Simmons says it is pleasing to see the impact of University research on the wider community. “University research should be relevant and when we hear so many people telling us how relevant and timely our research is, we feel it is worthwhile.”
Dr Stringer says there is now the opportunity for the University to further interact with fisheries and other industries to achieve the economic upgrading envisioned by the government. “The inquiry and its recommendations are the beginning, not the end, of this process.”