“MOSS is well needed” - Encounter Kaikoura

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 49, December 2015

The Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) is “well needed” for the commercial maritime industry, says Encounter Kaikoura co-owner Ian Bradshaw.

Ian and his partners in the ‘swim with the dolphins’ business have recently made the full transition from the former Safe Ship Management system into MOSS.

His experience is that MOSS is a more thorough system, which he says was definitely needed when introduced last year – to help ensure an improvement in safety practices across the commercial maritime sector.

“MOSS really makes you think about all aspects of your safety system; and implementing it.”

The purpose of MOSS is for operators to plan and implement rigorous safety systems themselves – understanding the process every step of the way and ensuring it is put into practice.

Encounter Kaikoura employs 55 staff and has three vessels – a 13.5 metre catamaran and two Stabicraft at 13.5 and 11 metres – which each do three trips a day. In peak season it is a seven-day-a-week enterprise, catering for around 160 visitors daily.

Ian and his partners are local-born operators, who take pride in offering a rounded eco-tourism experience to their patrons. The dolphin swim tours impart an awareness and appreciation of the dusky dolphin, its characteristics and behavioural patterns; along with providing an understanding of the unique undersea features that are pivotal to the existence of prolific marine life off the Kaikoura Coast.

Ian says the nature of their business, in catering for large numbers of clients, means that he and his Encounter Kaikoura team were already very safety focused – with detailed systems in place that were regularly tested.

“There was nothing new in MOSS that we were not already doing. All our processes were already tailored to fit into MOSS – which no doubt aided the smooth transition.”

One part of the MOSS process was particularly helpful in finalising Encounter Kaikoura’s Maritime Transport Operator Plan (MTOP) and applying for their MTOC (certificate). Ian received a comprehensive email following a desk-top assessment by a non-local maritime officer, and found that “extremely useful” in making the final enhancements to their safety plan.

This was followed by a site visit, with the local maritime officer interviewing all the partners to check their understanding of the safety system.

It’s important to remember, says Ian, that “maritime officers want to know that operators understand their own systems, and are implementing them”.

He advises operators to be wary of using consultants to re-work existing material for their MOSS application, but then not actually understanding themselves what their safety system is supposed to encompass. They are likely to be found out during the site visit stage, and “put through the ringer”.

While the new system is a worthy change, Ian says MOSS does not present any great surprises: “Initially it might all be a bit intimidating, but once you make a start there are no real major changes other than it is more thorough and a bit more formalised.”

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