Marine Legislation Bill first reading

  • Gerry Brownlee

The Marine Legislation Bill had its first reading in Parliament today.

The Bill makes amendments to the Maritime Transport Act 1994 across three main categories: implementing international maritime conventions; port, harbour and navigation safety; and miscellaneous provisions.

The Bill also amends the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effect) Act 2012 by the transfer of certain discharge and dumping of waste functions from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority.

“International maritime conventions are a good way for New Zealand to protect our safety and environmental interests,” says Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee.

In particular the Bill seeks to substantially increase the amount of compensation payable for incidents like the Rena grounding, through amendments that give effect to the 1996 Protocol to the International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution 2001.

Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping that establish an internationally applicable alcohol limit for merchant seafarers are implemented through the Bill.

The Bill also seeks to clarify the relationship between national navigation safety standards and local navigation controls and the associated responsibilities of the regional councils.

“The proposed amendments underpin the significant role of the regional councils and harbourmasters in maintaining maritime safety,” Mr Brownlee says.

Proposals also seek to reinforce councils’ involvement in the implementation of the New Zealand Port and Harbour Maritime Safety Code.

The miscellaneous amendments are designed to improve enforcement, modernise penalty levels and clarify the application of the Maritime Transport Act.

Responsibility for regulating certain discharges and dumping of waste shifts from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority because discharge and dumping are often part of a wider activity that will require a marine consent under the new Exclusive Economic Zone regime. The amendments are necessary to reflect the specific requirements of international conventions which relate to discharges and dumping.