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Legislation to enhance maritime security

2 September 2003 Media Statement

Legislation to enhance maritime security

The Associate Transport Minister Harry Duynhoven says the security of New Zealand citizens, trade and tourism will be increased as a result of new maritime security legislation introduced into Parliament today.

The Maritime Security Bill establishes a new framework that will reduce the risk of security incidents, like a terrorist attack, involving ships or port facilities, particularly those serving New Zealand's international trade.

"New Zealand's relative geographical isolation does not provide immunity from the threat of terrorism," says Mr Duynhoven.

"Given the increased global terrorist risk, the Bill is intended to address gaps in the current maritime security framework and is another vital step towards ensuring our border is well protected."

Following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) agreed to a new framework to enhance the security of ships and ports used in international trade and tourism.

This was done through amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) in December 2002.

As a contracting party to SOLAS, New Zealand, is required to enact legislation to put the new security framework in place.

The Maritime Security Bill has now been introduced to allow the maritime security requirements to be implemented by the IMO deadline of 1 July 2004, in order to fulfil New Zealand's international treaty obligations.

The Bill will affect New Zealand ports with international trading connections, and New Zealand ships trading internationally.

It will also apply to the following foreign registered ships coming to New Zealand:

- International passenger ships

- International cargo ships over 500 gross tonnes

- International mobile offshore drilling units

The new regime adopts a soundly-based risk management approach. The New Zealand port facilities and ship owning companies covered by the Bill will be required to undertake detailed security risk assessments.

This will then form the basis for the development of individual security plans tailored to address the security risks.

Mr Duynhoven says "a lot of hard work has already been undertaken by the Maritime Safety Authority and port and shipping companies to identify assets and infrastructure that could be at risk from terrorist attacks."

"This means a lot of progress has already been made towards meeting the 1 July 2004 deadline."

"We have been working closely with unions, port and shipping companies for the past few months towards this and I have been impressed by the co-operation shown by all parties to improve maritime security in this country. I am greatly encouraged by everyone's timely response and their recognition of the huge importance this legislation has on our maritime industry."

It is anticipated that the Maritime Safety Authority will be formally appointed as the designated authority for overseeing port and ship security, and for approving the port facility and ship security plans.

A ship intending to enter a New Zealand port must provide security-related information to the MSA, to demonstrate that it complies with the SOLAS requirements.

The legislation also provides for searching and screening powers for authorised people such as police or customs officers, or maritime security officers.

These powers would be exercised only in particular circumstances, such as an increased level of terrorist threat, and would be designed to prevent unauthorised weapons or dangerous items being brought onto a ship or into a port.

"This bill is part of a whole-of-government approach towards strengthening security in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and sits alongside two other bills already before Parliament - the Border Security Bill and the Counter Terrorism Bill," says Mr Duynhoven.

Details of the legislation can be found at:

© Scoop Media

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