23 Feb 2012

Sanford asked to explain poor labour allegations

6:12 pm on 23 February 2012

A US seafood importer is demanding an explanation from fishing company Sanford following new allegations of poor labour conditions on foreign charter fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters.

The family-owned Mazetta company has imported fish from Sanford for the past eight years with the annual contract worth several million dollars.

It is now going to carry out its own investigation into conditons on board Sanford's charter vessels.

Mazetta has written a letter to Sanford demanding assurances that allegations of physical, mental and sexual abuse of Indonesian workers on a Sanford-run foreign charter vessel the Dong Won 519 are untrue.

The allegations appeared in an article by American journalist Benjamin Skinner.

Mazetta says it wants the agents who supply crews audited and it wants to know how much product is caught by Sanford-owned vessels compared with its foreign charter vessels.

Sanford says it will comply and is independently investigating the situation.