FV Mainstream first to be reflagged

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 43, April 2013

The Ukrainian vessel FV Mainstream was the first foreign chartered fishing vessel (FCFV) officially registered as a New Zealand vessel, bringing it under New Zealand labour and health and safety laws.

The flag state system means that ships are provided with nationalities (‘a flag’) and are then required to comply with the laws of that country. Mainstream is chartered by Independent Fisheries and, until the reflagging in March, was previously registered in Dominica.

The legal registration of the vessel was changed from Dominica to New Zealand, after satisfying the requirements of the Ship Registration Act 1992 that the New Zealand charterer has the ‘whole possession and control of the ship, including the right to appoint its master and crew’. Discussions on reflagging of Mainstream began in June 2012 and MNZ applied its normal charges for change of registration and recognition of certificates.

The reflagging process involves ensuring the vessel and its safety systems are fully compliant with New Zealand maritime rules and meet the ongoing requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, and recognising foreign crew qualifications to the New Zealand equivalent certificate (with the crew passing an oral examination to assess competence and knowledge of New Zealand requirements).

small image desciption
Bosun Sergei Sotnitskiy marks Lyttelton as the home port on Mainstream’s stern, as part of the refl agging process.
Maritime New Zealand ©2020

Legislation is before parliament to make it compulsory for all foreign chartered fishing vessels to be reflagged by 2016.

“MNZ is working closely with all operators to provide guidance and support through the transition to reflagging, while ensuring that the integrity of New Zealand’s maritime and health and safety standards is maintained,” said MNZ General Manager Maritime Standards Sharyn Forsyth.

“The first reflagging shows the system is already in place to allow companies to make New Zealand the flag-state for charter vessels and I expect more vessels to be reflagged in future,” she said.

There are now 16 FCFVs operating year-round in New Zealand waters. An additional six vessels operate seasonally.

The reflagging process

The vessel is inspected by MNZ and feedback is provided on requirements to be met under the Maritime Transport Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Ownership paperwork must then be provided to show that the New Zealand charterer has effective control of the vessel, and any overseas registration is closed or suspended.

MNZ will then reconcile the foreign crew’s qualifications with their New Zealand equivalent certificate – this includes passing an oral examination.

They also need their Shipboard Marine Oil Spill Contingency plan (SOPEP) re-approved by MNZ.

A recognised surveyor must then inspect the vessel to ensure all requirements have been carried out – this includes permanent ‘carving and marking’, which includes changing the home port shown on the stern.

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