Ukraine conflict to impact Sealord

By Tumamao Harawira

It's been seven days since Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and there are potential impacts for fishing company Sealord.

Half-owned by iwi, Sealord employs about 80 Russian nationals on its vessel, Meridian and, while it's business as usual for the company, potential sanctions by New Zealand on the Russian regime could disrupt its business.

Sealord has eight deep-sea vessels fishing New Zealand waters. The Meridian is one of those vessels.

According to Sealord chairman Whaimutu Dewes, while the Meridian is technically owned by Sealord, it sails under another country, Russia, and Ukraine before that.

"The vessel is registered in New Zealand. Although it is originally a Ukrainian vessel, it has been registered here so it complies with New Zealand law."

Whaimutu says despite being registered to Sealord, the Meridian is still flying under another country's flag.

"The vessel remains independent of Sealord."

Russia has been subjected to financial sanctions since it began its invasion of Ukraine, including Russia's central bank being barred from using the SWIFT international money transfer system or the "Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication", a secure messaging system that facilitates rapid cross-border payments, making international trade flow smoothly.

Whaimutu says it is unclear the impacts any potential sanctions from New Zealand against Russia, diplomatic or otherwise, would have on the business.

"That hasn't come out yet. A government directive hasn't as yet been made. At the moment the 80-odd on board are okay but they are worried about home."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the possibility of expelling the Russian ambassador from New Zealand is not off the table.

"We've not removed any options from the table. I would say that it is a step that hasn't been taken by many at this stage."