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Fishupdate Friday briefings
Published:  21 December, 2012

NEW Zealand is offering foreign fishermen who work in its country's waters better protection. The move comes after allegations of abuse, poor wages and mistreatment of crew from some Asian countries.

New Zealand  Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said  the fishing companies will be more closely monitored and crew members must have individual bank accounts so their wages can be paid directly to them in New Zealand. Other changes include making the New Zealand partner in a charter the guarantor for crew wages and introducing a "fit and proper person" test before they can become a partner. Mr Guy says that will mean they will be subject to the full range of New Zealand law, including employment relations and workplace health and safety.

THE Icelandic fishing company is reporting on its website that humpback whales have been getting in the way of its vessels out in search of capelin. The Iceland capelin season is in full swing at the moment. Halldór Jónasson, second mate on board  the trawler Lundey NS, said: "We’ve had endless mending this trip, with the gear damaged in practically every shot and almost always because we end up with a whale inside the gear - and after a long tough trip. As we have already reported, the large pods of fin whales on fishing grounds north of the westfjords have made fishing unusually difficult over the last few days, but Lundey and its crew have been exceptionally unlucky." According to  Mr Jónasson, whales in the gear have been responsible for damage on four or five occasions when the big fin whales that are also chasing capelin were inside as the purse seine was shot. The whales are not easily avoided as the capelin are only within range of the fishing gear during the hours of darkness. He added: "You don’t see that they’re inside until the net is closing up. Then  you hear them blowing and they rip the gear to shreds as they push their way out of  it."
NEW York is the latest US city to find that what the fish consumers buy is not always what it says on the label. A new survey of stores and restaurants found that over one-third of fish sold were falsely labelled as different species. The results of this study were released by the ocean advocacy group Oceana which has been carrying out identical  surveys in other US cities and states on both the east and west coasts  - and coming up with  similar  results. This most recent round of testing in New York City found that tuna was the most likely to be mislabelled. A full 94 percent of fish labelled  'white tuna' were revealed to be escolar, a fish banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of the laxative effect it can have on those who consume it.
THE Australian fishing industry is celebrating a new report which shows that its fishery is both well managed and in a healthy state. The inaugural Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks Report,  the first proper survey of fish stocks carried out for some time in Australia, found that 90 per cent of the wild-caught stocks in the report were from sustainable stocks. The report tests for the first time 49 of Australia's most popular wild-caught seafood species divided into 150 different stocks around the country and covering 70 percent of the Australian commercial fishing industry. Of the 150, 98 stocks were classified as 'sustainable', 11 as being in a 'transitioning' phase either up or down, while 39 had insufficient data to allow them to be assessed. Two stocks -  school sharks and southern bluefin tuna - were classified as 'over-fished'.

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