Safety update

March 2001 Disposal of fishing equipment

This safety update is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risks to safety from dumping of garbage at sea. It provides safe practice tips and information on rule requirements.


A fishing vessel, approximately 90 miles off the coast, was recently immobilized when its propeller was fouled by a section of discarded synthetic fibre trawl netting. The consequences may have been serious had the weather been worse. Nonetheless, the resultant repair costs were high because a diver had to be flown, by helicopter, to the site to cut the netting free. Quite apart from the safety aspect, there is an environmental issue to consider.


Marine Protection Rule Part 170 and the Resource Management (Marine Pollution) Regulations 1998 give effect to the requirements found in Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 and define the classes of garbage that may be discharged from ships. Plastics, such as trawl netting, are considered to be harmful substances under maritime legislation. The Maritime Transport Act 1994 sections 226 and 237, and the Resource Management Act 1991 make it an offence to discharge harmful substances into the sea. Persons who commit such an offence face severe penalties.

Safe practice tips

Mariners are reminded that information concerning the dumping of garbage at sea is available, free of charge, from the Maritime New Zealand. It includes pamphlets and self-adhesive labels.

In the interests of safety and the environment: DO NOT DUMP PLASTICS IN THE SEA.

Original source content - Boat Notice 012002, March: Disposal of fishing equipment.

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