The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee (the Committee) has reported back on the Marine Legislation Bill (the Bill). The Committee recommended that this omnibus Bill be passed with amendments. The following information summarises the Committee’s key recommendations on Part 1: Changes to the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

Information about the Bill related to the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website(external link).

More detailed information about the passage of the Bill including the submissions made to the Committee is available here(external link).

What were the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee recommendations?

The Committee’s key recommendations cover areas of the Bill such as:

  • interpretation and application of the Maritime Transport Act (the Act)
  • local regulation of maritime activity
  • operation of ships
  • civil liability for pollution of marine environment from marine structures

 View the Committee’s full report on the Parliament website(external link).

Interpretation of the Act

The Committee recommended, in response to regional council concerns that the Bill appeared to increase the scope of their existing responsibilities, that, where applicable, the definition of port and harbourmaster be amended to allay such concerns.

Application of the Act

A new clause stating that (unless otherwise specified) the Act would apply to New Zealand ships (other than pleasure craft) anywhere in the world and to foreign ships in New Zealand waters, is recommended to be inserted. This clarifies the understood but not explicitly stated application of the Act and is consistent with international law.  

Local regulation of maritime activity

The Bill consolidates central and local regulation of maritime safety and maritime-related activities largely by transferring local controls from the Local Government Act 1974 to the Maritime Transport Act. The roles and responsibilities of regional councils were to be clearly defined and not enlarged.

The way the Bill prescribed the responsibility of regional councils for maritime safety and maritime-related activities was considered to be too onerous in some situations. Therefore, the recommendation is to frame the responsibilities as functions of the regional councils rather than duties, thus allowing councils to decide when regulation is appropriate.

The Committee addressed a similar concern regarding the appointment, duties, and powers of harbourmasters by recommending that the Bill be amended to:

  • ensure that a regional council would be only required to appoint a harbourmaster when directed by the Minister of Transport
  • to reframe the duties of harbourmasters as functions

In addition the Committee has recommended amendments to the Bill to:

  • make a harbourmaster’s powers of entry subject to reasonable constraints
  • provide a right of appeal against directions given by a harbourmaster

On occasions enforcement officers (appointed by a regional council) or constables can exercise the powers of a harbourmaster. The Committee recommends that this power be limited to when specially requested or authorised by a regional council.

To assist councils with their role in local regulation of maritime activity, the Committee has recommended that:

  • regional councils have the power to remove any abandoned ship, not just ones that may be a hazard to navigational safety
  • the Act provides a general penalty for breach of navigation bylaws
  • fees and charges relating to functions of the regional council be prescribed in accordance with provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 — meaning that a regional council could introduce or amend fees and charges through a Council resolution rather than a bylaw
  • a regional council may transfer responsibilities other than bylaw-making or the appointment of a harbourmaster to a council-controlled organisation

It is recommended that amendments be made to clarify the responsibilities of port operators for the safety of port operations.

Further clarification is recommended so that regional councils are prevented from transferring the powers to appoint harbourmasters and to make bylaws to a council-controlled organisation or a port operator; and are precluded from delegating the power to make bylaws to a port operator.

Operation of ships

This section relates to the loading of ships. The recommendation is that the Act creates an offence and prescribes a penalty for overloading a ship to ensure that the Act is consistent with the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966. The Convention requires a ship’s load lines not to be submerged when the ship proceeds to sea, is at sea, or arrives in port.

Civil liability for pollution of marine environment from marine structures

This section relates to the liability arising from the pollution of the sea by marine structures or their operations.  It is recommended that the definition of 'regulated offshore installation' be amended so that it is clear that the insurance requirement extends to pipelines connected to the offshore installations.

What stage is the Bill at?

The next stage for the Bill is the Committee of the Whole House. This precedes the third reading.