The Press

For­eign crew can’t get visas

- Ma­rine´ Lourens Immigration · Society · Christchurch · Lyttelton · Greenpeace · New Zealand · Immigration New Zealand

Two fish­ing ves­sels docked in Christchur­ch’s Lyt­tel­ton Port face a strug­gle to get crew less than a week be­fore the start of the Antarc­tic sea­son af­ter im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties re­fused to let over­seas work­ers ap­ply for visas.

The fish­ing boats are owned by Ar­gos Froy­anes Ltd, a pri­vately owned Bri­tish-Nor­we­gian com­pany, and are used for tooth­fish­ing.

Patag­o­nian and Antarc­tic tooth­fish are con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy, but both ap­pear on Green­peace NZ’s red fish list due to the for­mer be­ing heav­ily over­fished and the lat­ter be­ing very slow grow­ing.

Days from the start of the fish­ing sea­son, Ar­gos Froy­anes’ boats have been left with in­com­plete crews and stuck in Lyt­tel­ton af­ter a judge dis­missed its chal­lenge to the de­ci­sion by Im­mi­gra­tion New Zealand.

The com­pany asked Im­mi­gra­tion NZ to in­vite iden­ti­fied over­seas work­ers to ap­ply for crit­i­cal pur­pose visas to help make up the bal­ance of per­son­nel to crew the two ves­sels.

Un­der the cur­rent Covid-19 bor­der re­stric­tions, em­ploy­ers can re­quest to bring work­ers into the coun­try if they are deemed ‘‘other crit­i­cal work­ers’’.

This in­cludes shipown­ers who can re­quest for for­eign crew to travel to New Zealand on ap­proved ships.

When Im­mi­gra­tion NZ de­clined to in­vite the Ar­gos Froy­anes work­ers to ap­ply for visas, the com­pany filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion with the High Court to have the de­ci­sion re­viewed.

The ap­pli­ca­tion, heard on Fri­day by Jus­tice Rob Os­borne, was dis­missed af­ter the judge found Section 186 of the Im­mi­gra­tion Act pre­vented it from pro­ceed­ing.

Jus­tice Os­borne found the fish­ing com­pany was barred by leg­is­la­tion from bring­ing re­view pro­ceed­ings in court, and he there­fore re­frained from con­sid­er­ing Ar­gos Froy­anes’ case in de­tail.

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