Human Trafficking For Forced Labour At Sea: An Assessment Of New Zealand's Response
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The fishing industry is worth approximately $1.4 billion annually to the New Zealand economy, making seafood New Zealand's fifth largest export earner, and giving the industry as a whole a position of high importance to New Zealand. All is not well however. Recent events have exposed a sordid underside to this industry involving the abuse of labour of foreign fishermen at the hands of Korean boat owners, chartered by New Zealand companies to fish New Zealand waters. Since the introduction of the quota management system in the 1980s, the New Zealand fishing industry has had problems relating to the exploitation of migrant workers. In some instances, this exploitation appears to be manifested in the form of human trafficking. Adopting a socio-legal methodology, this thesis examines the facts that support claims of human trafficking of economically vulnerable fishers from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines into New Zealand, where they are required to work in exploitative conditions upon foreign charter vessels in New Zealand's exclusive economic zone. Having established the argument for the existence of human trafficking in New Zealand's territory (a claim which has been consistently downplayed or denied by government officials) this thesis then examines the evolving nature of the legal obligations that have been placed upon the New Zealand government by international law. Combining these international obligations with standards of best practice that have been derived from an examination of three other jurisdictions - Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America - into a set of benchmark criteria, this thesis concludes with a critical assessment of the New Zealand anti-trafficking framework by these standards.