The seafood industry welcomes the Ministerial Inquiry into the Use and Allocation of Migrant Labour in the Seafood Sector.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker, announced the Inquiry today and released its terms of reference.

The industry is well aware of the desire of government to reduce migrant workers across many sectors and the seafood industry is already engaged with government on a plan to transition more New Zealanders into the industry.

That transition will be challenging and take time but we look forward to the Inquiry’s recommendations into how we can reduce our reliance on migrant labour and how automation and innovation might play a role in that.

The industry agrees that a skilled New Zealand workforce will be beneficial in terms of resilience to global events such as COVID 19 and is pleased the terms of reference acknowledge that ‘there will need to be an economically sensible methodology to allocate the right to migrant labour in order to both drive the transition the Government is seeking and ensure workers who are engaged from overseas are allocated to the highest value outcomes.

This Inquiry does not look at working conditions as all foreign labour in the industry works under New Zealand employment and health and safety law.

The seafood industry provides multiple options for rewarding careers and roles offering high pay for those who want to progress, with companies encouraging training and advancement.

We welcome analysis of the barriers preventing the further ‘New Zealandisation’ of the workforce and are pleased that Greg Johanssen, who has extensive experience in the seafood industry, will join NZIER’s Peter Wilson and Julie Fry in conducting the Inquiry