6 Apr 2021

Fishing sector recruitment campaign would be half paid for by taxpayers - documents

2:04 pm on 6 April 2021

Taxpayers are being asked to stump up for half the cost of a TV ad campaign to attract more people to the fishing sector.

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A commercial fishing boat. Photo: 123RF

The details are revealed in correspondence between Sealord and the Ministry for Primary Industries on steps taken to encourage New Zealanders into the industry.

It was all part of an agreement the sector signed with the government in return for being allowed to bring in 570 fishers from Russia and Ukraine, signed by Sealord, Independent, Aurora, Sanford and Maruha.

The working visas were seen by the government as a temporary fix to a labour shortfall it would prefer to see filled by locals.

Just over one in every 10 of the mostly Russian crew tested positive for Covid-19, which was also taken home by a health worker at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch.

In a letter released to RNZ under the Official Information Act, Sealord, which returned a $30 million profit last year, asked for reassurance that MPI was still willing to contribute a dollar for dollar amount to a new ad campaign, extolling the benefits of a life at sea.

The final cost of the ad was not revealed.

It was all part of a campaign to raise the sector's profile, revealed by RNZ in December.

According to the plan's authors, it involved promoting "the adventure of fishing in the Southern Ocean" with New Zealand's version of reality TV show Deadliest Catch.

As well as expos in schools and advertising on social media, there was a plan to pitch a feature on the fishing industry to TVNZ's Seven Sharp programme.