Find out more about the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill by reading the Questions and Answers below.

What is in the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill?

Why are changes being made?

Who was consulted?

Who will the Bill affect?

What's the timeline?

How do I know what stage the Bill is at?

Are there any increased costs?

What is in the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill?

The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill (the Bill) makes amendments to the Maritime Transport Act 1994 (the Act) across four main categories:

Implementing international maritime conventions

The Bill supports New Zealand’s implementation of the following conventions:

  • Protocol of 1996 to Amend the International Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 (LLMC Protocol)

  • Protocol Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Pollution by Substances other than Oil 1973 (Intervention Protocol)

  • International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001 (Bunkers Convention)

  • Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978 (STCW)

Port, harbour and navigation safety

The Bill establishes explicit functions, duties and powers sufficient to support the implementation of the voluntary Port and Harbour Maritime Safety Code 2004 (the Code). Legislative amendments (through the Bill) are also required to empower regional council enforcement personnel to enforce national rules, to achieve consistency between rules and bylaws and to provide for transitional arrangements. Part 39A and Part 43 of the Local Government Act 1974, which relate to the local regulation of navigation, are being transferred to the Maritime Transport Act.

Miscellaneous provisions

The Bill contains a number of miscellaneous amendments relating to application, interpretation, offence, penalty, procedural and regulation-making provisions, and to the structure and organisation of certain provisions relating to maritime liability. 

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Why are changes being made?

The amendments to the Act are being made for the following reasons:

  • To implement international maritime conventions concerning liability for damage resulting from maritime accidents and response to incidents involving the threat of pollution from hazardous and noxious substances. The Bill provides for implementation of conventions that substantially increase the amount of compensation payable for damage, including oil pollution damage from ships’ bunker (fuel) oil. The grounding of the Rena on the Astrolabe Reef on 5 October 2011 highlighted the need for New Zealand to update its liability levels for maritime incidents by implementing the most recent international convention standards. The Bill also implements amendments to the STCW Convention that establish an internationally applicable alcohol limit for merchant seafarers — a blood alcohol limit of 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (and an equivalent breath alcohol limit of 250 micrograms per litre of breath) for on-duty seafarers when they are performing certain safety, security, or environmental duties specified in the Convention

  • To clearly establish that the Director of Maritime NZ has authority to take action in circumstances where the operation of a port or port facility has implications for maritime safety. This will enable action to be taken, if necessary, to support the best practice guidelines in the New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code (the Code), but does not alter the Code’s voluntary status.

  • To reinforce the important role of regional councils and harbourmasters in maintaining maritime safety through local regulation of navigation and their involvement in the implementation of the Code, and to clarify the relationship between national navigation safety standards (set by the maritime rules) and local navigation controls (established by regional council navigation bylaws) and the associated responsibilities of the regional councils.

  • To address problems identified over the completeness, clarity, consistency or effectiveness of various provisions in the Act. This includes giving effect to Regulations Review Committee recommendations to clarify that the Marine Safety Charge is a levy, not a user charge or fee, and provide for a statutory consultation process when making regulations to set or amend the levy.

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Who was consulted?

Port, harbour and navigation safety

In November 2007, the Ministry of Transport released the ‘Port and Harbour and Navigation Safety Management’ discussion document for public consultation. The document asked whether there is a case for providing formal support for the voluntary Code and invited views on a range of options.

International conventions and protocols

In 2007, a document titled ‘Four International Maritime Environmental Conventions/Protocols’ was released for public consultation from November 2007 to January 2008.

Amendments to the International Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers 1978 (STCW)

The shipping industry was widely informed on the changes to the STCW Convention when the International Maritime Organization was developing these amendments and had an opportunity to provide input to the International Maritime Organization at that time. In consulting on the maritime rules to implement the Convention amendments, Maritime NZ reminded the industry of the impending alcohol requirements.

Who will the Bill affect?

International conventions, port, harbour and navigation safety

Maritime NZ and regional councils are the two main parties which will be affected by the amendments to the Act. Other parties likely to be affected are port companies, harbourmasters, domestic commercial shipping operators, foreign going vessel operators, merchant seafarers, the New Zealand Police and those involved in recreational boating safety.

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What’s the timeline?

The Bill was introduced to the House on 30 August 2012. It is the government’s intention that the Bill be enacted in 2013.

How do I know what stage the Bill is at?

You can follow progress of the Bill on the Parliament website(external link).

We will also be updating our website to reflect the progress of the Bill through the House.

Are there any increased costs?

International conventions, port, harbour and navigation safety

Most of the amendments proposed in the Bill have no immediate impact on costs. The Bill is largely about clarifying existing arrangements and ensuring that action can be taken where necessary in the interests of maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, rather than imposing new regulatory obligations and compliance costs. The increased liability limitations for maritime claims and oil pollution damage will require ship owners to carry an increased level of insurance coverage for these risks, although any impact on the cost of owners’ total liability insurance costs is expected to be minimal.