The Press

Foreign crew can’t get visas

- Marine´ Lourens

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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