MNZ joins forces on the water
Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 47, December 2014 - January 2015
Operation Moana, which took place in September, saw MNZ working with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to board and inspect 16 fishing vessels operating off the west coast of the South Island. They wanted to ensure the vessels were meeting environmental and safety standards.
Two Korean-flagged foreign charter fishing vessels (FCFVs) – Gom 379 and Sur Este 700 – were sent back to port to rectify non-compliances related to marine protection rules. The two vessels were required to correct deficiencies in their oily water systems and have a full inspection before returning to sea.
In addition to environmental protection issues, inspection of the vessels also covered certification and life-saving appliances, emergency preparedness and working practices.
The inspection team focused on FCFVs and New Zealand-flagged offshore fishing vessels, but also took the opportunity to look at New Zealand inshore fishing vessels.
Southern Regional Compliance Manager David Billington said the rationale for the operation was that being on board a ship at sea is the best way to get a true picture of how it operates.
“It’s really good to see the vessel when it’s actually working – problems are a lot more visible than when it’s tied up. And when a vessel is on the water, you get to see the practices in action, which is when any issues will come to light.”
During the operation, the inspection team boarded 16 vessels, and spoke to smaller operators about MNZ’s new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS), to provide information and answer questions.
David said the New Zealand vessels in particular were observed to have good oil pollution prevention and garbage management practices.
“They were doing exactly what their plans said they would do – they had the right facilities and good practices. Our team observed that they often took the extra step to ensure they were not only meeting requirements but exceeding them.”
Sanford Deepwater Fleet Manager Darryn Shaw said the company welcomed the initiative.“It is pleasing to see that MNZ is being proactive with its vessel inspections to ensure that everybody is operating to the rules. The rules are there to make it safe for fishermen to undertake their livelihood, along with protecting the environment.
“The inspections are very thorough and provide Sanford and its stakeholders with independent reassurance that our fishing vessels are operating to the level we require,” Darryn said.
Overall, David Billington said, the campaign had been a big success.
“We’re very grateful to the Defence Force, and really enjoyed the opportunity to work with them on something that is important to all of us – the environmental protection of New Zealand waters.
“This campaign was an excellent opportunity for MNZ to have a close look at how our fishing fleet is actually working out on the water – to engage with operators at the wheel if you like, as opposed to on the wharf – and to demonstrate that we are serious about enforcing these rules.
“From an industry point of view, I think most operators would be really glad to know that we are holding operators to account – as the vast majority of operators absolutely want to do the right thing.”
In October, MNZ went back out on the water with the NZ Police in a joint operation focusing on mussel farmers and the aquaculture sector in the Marlborough Sounds.
The operation in Pelorus and Kenepuru sounds followed visits to recreational boaties in the area over Easter, and was made possible with the assistance of the NZ Police and the Wellington-based Lady Elizabeth IV.
MNZ Assistant Regional Compliance Manager (South) Domonic Venz said the emphasis was on education and information for aquaculture operators in the area.
“Where there were obvious issues of non-compliance with the rules we took action, but we also wanted to make sure operators knew about MOSS, which came into force on 1 July, and the new qualifications framework SeaCert.”
Twelve commercial vessels were boarded during the two-day operation, and a total of 85 nautical miles was patrolled.
A major focus was the carriage of dangerous goods in accordance with Maritime Rules Part 24A: Carriage of Cargoes – Dangerous Goods and the use of hazardous substances on board under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. Machinery was also inspected to ensure it was adequately guarded to prevent any person from being harmed.
The visits resulted in seven vessels being issued with a total of 10 improvement notices under section 39 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, while another vessel had conditions imposed under section 55 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
Domonic said these breaches may not have been identified without the opportunity to observe the vessels at sea while the machinery was being operated by the employees.
“Most of the vessels inspected were commercial mussel barges, targeted because they had been over-represented in accident statistics in recent years, with several employees receiving serious harm injuries while at work.”
The operation also gave the maritime officers the opportunity to talk to recreational boaties ahead of Labour Weekend, the traditional start to the recreational boating season. Safety information packs and advice were given out and the vessels were checked to ensure they were adequately prepared for their boating trips.