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International convention will make fishing safer

International convention will make fishing safer and increase recognition for Kiwis
10 October 2016

New Zealand is adopting international rules on certification for commercial fishermen, aimed at making fishing safer and ensuring New Zealand fishers will have their tickets recognised internationally.

Following public consultation in April 2015, the Government decided to accede to the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (known as STCW-F).

Maritime NZ is currently consulting on rule changes required as part of this process. The invitation to comment document is available on the Maritime NZ website here.

The consultation closes on 7 November.

The Convention covers crew working on fishing vessels of more than 24m in length or with propulsion power of 750kW or more, operating beyond 12 nautical miles from shore.

There are around 60 New Zealand-flagged vessels of this type operating in these areas.

New Zealand seafarers with STCW-F-aligned tickets on New Zealand’s SeaCert framework will be able to have their qualifications more readily recognised by the 19 states that have also acceded to the Convention. These include Canada, Norway, Denmark, and Spain.

New Zealand’s SeaCert framework already largely aligns with STCW-F but changes will be made to ensure full compliance, including:

increasing the sea service requirement for renewal of Marine Engineer Class (MEC) 4 and MEC5 certificate holders, who wish to exercise the associated fishing privileges, from 6 months sea service in the last 5 years, to 12 months sea service in the last 5 years
clarifying the minimum age requirement of 18 years for MEC4 and MEC5 certificates.
These rule changes will take effect five years after New Zealand accedes to the Convention. It is expected that the Convention will be in force in mid-2017.

Acceding to the Convention also gives New Zealand an enhanced ability to inspect foreign-flagged fishing vessels to ensure they meet the STCW-F standards.

Foreign fishing vessels operating within New Zealand’s EEZ must be flagged to New Zealand, but the rule change will allow Maritime NZ to carry out Port State Control inspections – covering crewing issues – of foreign-flagged fishing vessels that transit New Zealand waters, even if they do not fish.

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said acceding to the Convention was good news for those working in the fishing industry.

“This Convention brings New Zealand fishing certificates into the international framework for the first time,” he said. “It will have considerable benefits and will assist New Zealand’s efforts to improve safety in the fishing sector.”


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