National | Fisheries

Putin’s invasion could be blow to fisheries - Jones

Russian leader Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine will have global ramifications beyond the devastating humanitarian crisis, including for Aotearoa's commercial fishing industry, according to former chair of the Waitangi Fisheries Commission and Labour and NZ First MP, Shane Jones.

Industry eyes are trained on Ukraine amid fears Putin’s war could seriously restrict labour flows for the country's crucial deepwater fisheries harvest according to Jones.

Sealord, which is 50 per cent owned by a consortium of Iwi and catches 60% of the commercial iwi quota, has long-standing relationships with Ukraine and Russia for highly-skilled labour during the deepwater season.

Jones says no-fly zones, airline bans and military drafts will keep at least some of those workers at home.

Speaking on Waatea Jones said while the war was for the moment a regional conflict, sanctions and Putin's repeated threats of nuclear war have global ramifications not even Aotearoa can escape.

Nuclear Rubicon

“Although there’s a lot of saber rattling about the use of nuclear weapons, that literally is a Rubicon – once you’ve gone over, a bit like the moumou Nukutaurua in Maori traditions, you can never go back,” Jones said.

Putin’s statements on the demise of the Soviet Empire and his belief former Baltic states should return to Kremlin control means he may not stop at Ukraine according to Jones; he said Aotearoa presenting a united front with Ukraine and democratic allies was critical.

“Russia has empire ambitions yet again like the tsars of the past and secondly it does not want liberalism, democracy and other features of the Western creed of politics creeping into its system, or certainly the current leader doesn’t."

Labour issues for Sealord would be another blow for Aotearoa’s largest fisheries business after an October 2021 decision by the owners of New World and Pak'nSave in the North Island to dump some of the company’s most popular products in favour of fish caught overseas and processed in Australia and China.