Amended fishing boat rule reflects safety and industry needs

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 41, September 2012

Amendments to Maritime Rule Part 40D covering the design and construction of fishing boats, and the equipment used on them, will improve safety, lift compliance and better meet the needs of the fishing industry.

The changes are one of the elements of the Fishing Sector Action Plan, which has the overall objective of improving safety on fishing vessels.

The amendments make Part 40D more applicable to vessels less than 24 metres in length, which make up more than 90 percent of the 1,070 vessels in the New Zealand fishing fleet.

Announcing the changes, which came into force on 2 August, Associate Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges said structural and equipment failures accounted for 26 percent of fishing injuries in 2009/10.

“The fishing industry is one of our most dangerous, with 28 fatalities between 2002 and 2010. The amended rule helps address this social cost.

“In addition, the rule changes reflect recent lessons from maritime incidents, which can have significant consequences for crew safety and the seaworthiness of fishing ships.”

These amendments work to ensure the rule is appropriate for the age, range and scale of ships in New Zealand’s commercial fleet.

“A 2005 inspection of a random selection of small fishing vessels showed that compliance with Part 40D was extremely poor. An industry working party found that the rule was largely unworkable for the vessels it was intended to regulate. The amendments, which have been developed in close consultation with the sector over several years, ensure that the rule is appropriate for the majority of vessels in operation.”

Associate Minister Bridges said the cost to the sector was expected to be minimal – and in some cases, costs would be reduced.

“The aim is to reduce ambiguity and ensure requirements are practical and effective for all fishing vessels.

The changes make it clear who is responsible for compliance, which will help improve consistency of interpretation across the sector.”

MNZ General Manager Maritime Services, Sharyn Forsyth, said the amendments reflect existing best practice in the fishing industry.

“Previously, parts of 40D were not well-aligned with the constraints of small fishing vessels,” she said. “Many of the changes have been made to make the rule appropriate for all ships in New Zealand’s commercial fleet, and proportionate to risk levels on different-sized ships.

“Lessons from accidents and incidents are also reflected in the amendments.”

Several new requirements will mitigate the risks of fire and flooding, which can have serious consequences for fishing vessels.

While many changes update the rules to reflect common industry practices, substantial new structural requirements will be applicable to newly constructed fishing vessels.

Other changes to the rules include:

  • „„updated collision bulkhead requirements that are more practical for existing and new vessels
  • more flexible hatch cover requirements for small vessels
  • „„new specifications for equipment and fittings that limit the spread and impact of engine room fires
  • updated design and construction standards to reduce the risk of flooding
  • „„alternative guardrail and bulwark requirements applicable when navigation safety may otherwise be impeded
  • modified requirements regarding electrical system documentation „„
  • new breathing apparatus requirements applicable to small ships with a heightened risk of gas leaks from refrigeration systems.

The amendments will also remove the need for, and therefore the cost of, design approval for imported ships that already meet the stringent Australian National Standard for Commercial Vessels.

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