Marine Legislation Bill - Various Amendments

POSTED BY Karl Stolberger
Barbara Versfelt
04 December 2012

posted in Shipping | Transport | Legislation



The Marine Legislation Bill (Bill) is presently before Parliament.  It makes a number of changes to the Maritime Transport Act 1994 (MTA) which are intended to come into force on 1 April 2013. The changes include provisions in relation to pollution, limitation of liability, the obligations of regional councils, harbourmasters and ports and harbours and some further amendments.

This update deals with the various further proposed amendments to the MTA, including: 

  • Amendment of section 198 relating to cabotage;
  • The introduction of further offences and the extension of the limitation period;
  • The introduction of a new Part 4A implementing an alcohol testing regime for seafarers;
  • Extraterritorial operation;
  • Amendment of the definition of ‘pleasure craft’ and ‘reward’.

Carriage of coastal cargo by foreign operators

The explanatory note to the Bill records that section 198 of the MTA is to be amended to remedy ambiguity in provisions governing the carriage of coastal cargo by foreign ships on international journeys. International operators are allowed to carry coastal cargo in the course of a "continuous” international journey if such is "incidental in relation to the carriage of international cargo on the journey”. "Continuous” is defined as: "in relation to a journey, means proceeding directly and expeditiously”. The proposed amendments will improve the clarity of section 198 in overall terms. However, it is not entirely clear what is meant by the requirement , in order to benefit from the section, the carriage of coastal cargo must be "incidental in relation to the carriage of international cargo on the journey”.

Further offences and extension of the limitation period

The Bill creates a number of further offences, punishable by imprisonment or a fine (up to $100,000 for a body corporate), including:   

  • operating a ship without the required number of suitably qualified personnel;
  • acting in breach of a maritime document;
  • knowingly breaching any requirements specified in the Act or in regulations or rules thereunder, for the carriage of dangerous goods.  
  • overloading a ship, operating an overloaded ship or causing a ship to be overloaded.

The penalties for providing false or misleading information to the Director of Maritime New Zealand are increased (up to $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a body corporate).

The Bill also tidies up a number of aspects relating to the ability of the Director to suspend maritime documents and impose conditions on the same. 

Finally, section 411 of the MTA is amended to extend the period for laying informations charging a person with an offence from 6 to 12 months after the matter arose.

Alcohol testing for seafarers in new Part 4A of the MTA

The Bill will introduce alcohol testing for seafarers engaged in designated safety, security or marine environmental duties.  The amendments reflect amendments to the STCW Convention agreed in Manila in 2010.  The new testing regime will closely reflect the alcohol testing regime for drivers under the Land Transport Act 1998.  There is one important difference: the specified blood and breath alcohol limits are set at 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath and 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.  These limits are considerably lower than the drunk driving limits.

Extra territorial operation of the MTA

In the recent case of R v Teddy the District Court found that the Part 6 of the MTA, which includes the offence under section 65 of operating a vessel so as to expose persons or property to unnecessary danger provisions, did not apply to a New Zealand ship operating outside territorial waters. The Bill proposes to amend the long title of the MTA to provide that the act is to regulate maritime activities in New Zealand and New Zealand waters and within the EEZ and Continental Shelf waters and to regulate New Zealand vessels and offshore installations wherever they may be.

Definition of pleasure craft amended

The explanatory note to the Bill records thatthe Bill proposes to clarify what does and does not constitute commercial operation of a ship. To that end, the definitions of ‘pleasure craft’ and ‘reward’ in section 2(1) of the MTA are amended. A pleasure craft may not be used or offered for hire or reward. The definition of ‘reward’ is amended to now exclude from that definition payments or contributions for the use of the ship exclusively for recreational purposes, by the owner of the ship or a member of a club, an incorporated society or a trust that owns the ship.

POSTED BY Karl Stolberger
Barbara Versfelt
04 December 2012

posted in ShippingTransportLegislation



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