COOK Strait passenger ferry Straitsman has become the first New Zealand ship certified under the international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
"Today is the culmination of a significant amount of work for Maritime NZ and the commercial maritime sector — in working through changes to the maritime rules to reflect the convention and liaising with the commercial sector about what is required to comply," said Maritime NZ director Keith Manch.
"While New Zealand has aligned itself to the MLC, NZ labour standards on our vessels are already good. The MLC is aimed at raising standards on vessels where the living and working conditions for seafarers are poor," Mr Manch said.
The International Labour Organisation's (ILO) MLC, which came into force in New Zealand on March 9, 2017, aims to protect international and domestic seafarers and improve their safety and well-being on board foreign-flagged and New Zealand vessels.
The convention applies to about 890 foreign commercial cargo and cruise ships visiting New Zealand annually. Maritime NZ is expanding its Port State Control functions to include checking that foreign ships visiting New Zealand comply with the applicable provisions.
Meanwhile, 22 New Zealand ships — including Cook Strait ferries, coastal tankers and cement vessels — are required to comply if they operate beyond inshore limits, while the convention does not apply to fishing vessels.
According to Marine Operations Shipping's general manager Clive Glover the 13,906 gross-ton Straitsman, owned by Strait Shipping, operates between the North and South islands. In addition, Straitsman has to travel internationally to Australia for dry-docking requirements.
"In New Zealand, seafarers enjoy reasonable standards and conditions compared to the conditions some international seafarers have to work under. MLC sets a standard and prompts other countries to meet it," Mr Glover said.
New Zealand is among 82 member states that have adopted the ILO convention.