Taiwanese vessel detained in New Zealand for not paying crew

5 March 2019
boat in harbour
Maritime NZ ©2019
Panama-flagged bulk carrier Daiwan Justice

Maritime NZ detained the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Daiwan Justice on Saturday, 2 March 2019, at Lyttelton after a complaint the crews’ wages had not been paid for almost four months.

Maritime NZ Southern Regional Compliance Manager Michael Vredenburg said, the detention was lifted later on Saturday after the ship’s operator, Taiwanese company, Wisdom Marine International Limited, paid the crew.

Last year Daiwan Fortune, another Wisdom Marine International ship, was also detained. In both cases, Maritime NZ detained the ship until wages were paid.

Mr Vredenburg said Maritime NZ is now considering what compliance actions we may take against Wisdom Marine International.

Maritime NZ took action under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which sets out minimum standards for the health, safety and welfare of seafarers, including conditions of employment. It also has provisions for complaints and investigations.

“We acted on information provided to us by the International Transport Workers' Federation,” Mr Vredenburg said.

A Maritime Officer went on board the vessel to investigate. The Maritime Officer interviewed the ship’s master and crew, inspected documents and found evidence that the crew had not been paid.

When confronted with the evidence the ship’s master admitted the wages had not been paid. The Maritime Officer then took immediate action to detain the vessel.

“Maritime NZ applies maritime law irrespective of the ‘flag’ of the ship and the nationality of the crew,” Mr Vredenburg said.

Foreign-flag vessels must at all times comply with international conventions that New Zealand is party to, and in New Zealand waters within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the coast, must also comply with the Maritime Transport Act.

Information about the detentions has been shared with other Asia-Pacific countries’ maritime authorities as part of the regional and international Port State Control (PSC) system that operates in our region under an agreement known as the “Tokyo MOU”.

The PSC system ensures foreign ships coming to ports can be inspected to ensure they comply with minimum safety, security and environmental protection requirements set down in international conventions, including the MLC.

The Tokyo MOU is an agreement between 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Its purpose is to help improve maritime safety. It does that by coordinating the gathering and sharing of PSC information to identify ships and operators that break the rules or are a risk. New Zealand was a founding member of the MOU and serves a leadership role in the organisation, which is based in Tokyo, Japan. Similar MOU’s are in place in other regions around the world to ensure global coverage.

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