Safety update

June 2011 Fishing vessels and safety zones near offshore installations

This safety update is issued to highlight and explain the responsibilities of fishing vessel owners, fishing vessel masters and crew.

Background

The purpose of this guidance notice is to highlight and explain the responsibilities of fishing vessel owners and skippers to:

  • stay well clear of safety zones around offshore installations
  • not anchor or fish within protected or restricted areas near pipelines, subsea installations and subsea cables
  • be fully aware of other precautionary areas as marked on nautical charts.
nautical chart
Maritime New Zealand
Extract from maritime chart NZ45 covering Maui A and B off the coast of Taranaki

Safety zones

Any person onboard a ship who has responsibilities for navigation or watchkeeping should be fully aware of charted safety zones in the area where their ship is operating. These safety zones are clearly marked on nautical charts and supported with notes (generally located within the chart’s title block).

Safety zones are usually set to protect offshore installations. In New Zealand, safety zones are set by regulations issued under the Continental Shelf Act 1964 which include financial penalties for breaches. In addition to severely compromising safety onboard both the ship, and the offshore installation, the owner of any ship found to be breaching the regulations runs the risk of penalties of up to $1000. Navigational safety is also an important issue under the Maritime Transport Act 1994,which is enforced by Maritime New Zealand.

All unauthorised vessel must keep well clear of these zones.

Examples of a safety zones can be seen on the extract from chart NZ45 above. Notes are also provided, to more fully explain the detail on the chart, as shown below:

Safety Zones. The unauthorised entry of any vessel into the 500 metre safety zones around Maui A & B, Kupe and Maari production platforms, the FPSO Raroa and the FPSO Umuroa is prohibited.”

Protected areas and restricted areas

The function of protected areas and restricted areas are essentially quite similar. The intent of setting and publicising these areas on nautical charts is to prevent ships from anchoring or fishing there. These areas usually have subsea installations or subsea pipelines or cables and any snagging of this type of equipment by anchors, fishing lines, trawls or nets can have serious consequences for both safety and pollution.

On charts, these areas are often supported by small symbols indicating that no anchoring is permitted and no fishing is permitted.

The areas are set by orders of council under the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act and are enforced through the same Act.

Again, if the chart details these zones, a note is always provided. The notes should always be read to determine what restrictions are being applied in that area. Breaches of the restrictions can result in penalties.

The following notes are examples also from maritime chart NZ45:

Protected Area. All vessels are prohibited from anchoring or fishing within the Protected Area of gas pipelines to Maui A & B, Kupe and Maari prooduction platforms, the FPSO Raroa and the FPSO Umuroa.

Restricted Area. All New Zealand vessels are prohibited from, and other vessels warned against, anchoring or fishing within the Restricted Area (beyond the Terrirtorial Sea Outer Limit) of gas pipelines.

The gas pipelines from Maui A & B and Kupe production platforms contains flammable gas under high pressure; any vessel damaging them would face an immediate fire hazard.”

Precautionary areas

Precautionary areas are normally wider areas that are marked on a chart to indicate that specific hazards are present. Again the note on the chart should always be read to check what the hazards are.

The following note is an example from maritime chart NZ45:

“PRECAUTIONARY AREA
Entry into force date: 1 July 2007. All ships should navigate with particular caution in order to reduce the risk of a maritime casualty and resulting marine pollution in the precautionary areas.”

Importance of keeping charts up to date

If the charts on your ship are out of date, you may not be aware of the hazards for that area because you do not have them marked on your chart or supported by the notes on the chart. This is a significant hazard for the ship, other vessels, the offshore installations and the important assets around and between them.

All chart corrections must be made in accordance with updates via the fortnightly Notice to Mariners, issued by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). These can be found on the Notice to Mariners webpage.

You should also record when these updates have been made to the chart so that skipper and crew know everything is up to date.

All nautical charts used on commercial fishing vessels must comply with Maritime Rule Part 25.

Notice to Mariners (https://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/maritime-safety/notices-mariners)

Maritime Rule Part 25 (https://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/rules/part-25/)

Importance of keeping radio watch

At all times when the vessel is at sea, a continuous radio watch must be maintained. When within precautionary areas and near any of the areas and zones described above, it is very important that the radio watch is maintained to ensure that any events, alarms or warnings communicated within that area are heard and, if necessary, acknowledged and responded to.

Safe practice tips

  • Always keep your charts up to date and correct to the latest detail provided in Notice to Mariners.
  • When passage planning, make sure that you know all the information about any areas or zones that are close to your planned route.
  • Never enter a safety zone unless you have authorisation to be there.
  • Never anchor or fish in areas where the charts indicate you shall not do so.
  • Always be aware of radio messages and stay responsive to messages that are relevant to, or meant for, your vessel.

Original source content - Guidance Notice Issue 20, June 2011: Fishing vessels and safety zones near offshore installations.

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