Have your say - four rules open for consultation

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 42, December 2012

Public consultation is now open on the maritime rules relating to seafarer certification and operational limits.

The consultation period has been extended until 29 March 2013.

The extended consultation period will have an impact on the final date on which the new rules will be able to come into effect. The primary reasons for this are to ensure adequate time to consider submissions, make any necessary amendments to the rules and advance the final rules through the required government processes. Therefore, we expect the earliest date for implementation of SeaCert to be January 2014. The exact date of implementation will be confirmed following the consultation process.

In June 2011, following widespread input from the maritime community, MNZ released a new framework for qualifications and operational limits (QOL). This was designed to meet the needs of New Zealand’s commercial maritime sector, now and in the future.

The name of the framework has since been changed to SeaCert – Seafarer Certification – to recognise the fact that the term ‘qualifications’ is more suited to an educational context, while MNZ operates a licensing or certification system in line with international conventions. Four rules have been released for consultation:

  • Part 20: Operating Limits
  • Part 31: Crewing and Watchkeeping
  • Part 32: Seafarer Certification
  • Part 35: Training and Examinations.

These rules give effect to the SeaCert framework, which has already had substantial public input. The aim of this consultation is to ensure that the rules accurately reflect what is intended by the policy.

Key issues

Part 20: Operating Limits

A new specified limit has been introduced to cater for very restricted operations close to shore, and three new defined limits have been added to the existing defined inshore limits.

The coastal limit has been redefined at a uniform 50 nautical miles from the coast of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, with the offshore limit extended to the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone. The ‘unlimited’ limit will extend from this new offshore limit.

Seasonal commercial operations will be able to apply for a temporary extension to a defined limit, and local authorities and port companies will be able to obtain extended limits.

Part 31: Crewing and Watchkeeping

The original Part 31 was in three parts, which have been consolidated into a single rule that mirrors the structure for the proposed new Rule Part 31: Seafarer Certification. This is better aligned to international conventions and standards. The new rule covers general crewing and other requirements, such as fitness for duty, hours of rest, foreign certificates and minimum safe crewing documents.

Part 32: Seafarer Certication

This rule part sets out the final seafarer certification system – SeaCert – which has assessment of competence at its heart. It will be necessary to demonstrate competence to gain and maintain a certificate, and to move to a higher certificate. Certificates will clearly set out associated privileges – what you can do and where you can go.

Seafarers working in restricted limits will be most affected by the new SeaCert framework, with improved entry to commercial operations and clearer career progression.

SeaCert also aligns with international standards, particularly STCW-10 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) and STCW-F, maintaining New Zealand’s ongoing ‘white list’ status.

Greater emphasis has been placed on competence, proven ability and recognition of quality sea service, along with practical assessment using evidence-based task books at every level. All these changes should enable smoother career progression, with sea service for the next operational limit able to be gained, where possible, within the existing limit.

Two new certificates have also been added to the framework – an Integrated rating Certificate of Proficiency, to align more closely with Australian certificates in this area, and a Master <500GT unlimited, developed in response to feedback on the current NZOM STCW with unit standards 6912 and 6913.

A proposed structure is also set out in this rule part for seafarer certification fees, as are the planned routes for transition for new certificates.

Part 35: Training and Examinations

Part 35 sets out the roles of various agencies as they relate to New Zealand’s seafarer training and examinations. Part 35 has been revised to align with the requirements in Part 32. This includes requirements around course approvals by MNZ; and MNZ’s regulatory oversight of training providers, which complements the roles of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and industry training organisation Competenz, and training providers.

Taken together, these maritime rules form a complete package that will enable seafarers and employers in the commercial shipping and fishing sectors to benefit from:

  • the removal of unnecessary barriers to entry and career progression
  • competency-based rather than prescriptive experience requirements
  • recognition of all relevant sea-going experience
  • qualifications that match contemporary industry needs
  • a simpler, more logical certification structure.

The proposed rules, the related invitations to comment, a revised version of the SeaCert framework, and a table of changes since the 2011 QOL framework, are all available on MNZ’s website for feedback.

We encourage you to participate by sending us your views, to help ensure New Zealand has a world-class certification system that is easy to understand and administer.

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