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New Zealand Shipping The Solution To Supply Chain Chaos

The union representing ships’ masters and officers says future solutions for a resilient supply chain must include New Zealand ships crewed by New Zealand seafarers.

The New Zealand Merchant Service Guild has welcomed the Government’s recent ‘state of play’ report on coastal shipping, including its support for maintaining and developing local maritime skills.

Merchant Service Guild Vice President, Captain Iain MacLeod, says the ongoing global COVID pandemic has put the spotlight on the vulnerability of New Zealand’s supply chain.

Captain MacLeod draws on decades of direct experience of the shipping industry, and he was recently a Master on one of the international container vessels routinely plying the New Zealand coast.

He says allowing our supply chain to be dominated by international shipping companies paying crews from poor nations rates as low as NZ$1.47 per hour and charging exorbitant freight prices cannot be justified.

The Merchant Service Guild has been actively campaigning for an expansion to local coastal shipping since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

It has recently drafted a Private Member’s Bill to close loopholes in the Maritime Transport Act.

These loopholes have allowed international shipping companies like Maersk to progressively undermine New Zealand shipping.

“There is gross exploitation of international seafarers who effectively work in New Zealand waters, staying on board with no shore leave for months and months on end, while their employers make record profits, and pay no tax here.”

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Mr MacLeod says the situation has now become worse as the largest global shipper Maersk has put New Zealand on the spot market for freight rates.

He says this will hurt New Zealand industry, and a new supply chain model was urgently required that rebuilt New Zealand coastal shipping.

Captain MacLeod says a local seafaring workforce is a crucial factor in building New Zealand’s COVID resilience.

“There would be nothing to stop New Zealand crewed coastal vessels from adding international ports to their normal trading routes carrying New Zealand imports and exports.”

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