Maritime NZ: Fatalities down, accidents up

Yearly report image. Credit: Getty Images

Maritime fatalities in New Zealand have almost halved since 2015, down 44% according to the Maritime NZ annual report released in December 2019.

Twenty people were killed in New Zealand ports and harbours in the financial year ending 2019, compared to 35 in 2014–15. Only four of these involved a commercial operation, a Maritime NZ spokesperson told SAS, with the rest being recreational.

Two crew were killed: one went overboard, and his body was not discovered until several days later, and a second crew member died using a ship’s crane to tighten wire ropes on a stack of logs.

Additionally, an elderly and unwell passenger died on board a New Zealand-flagged ship en route from Pitcairn Island to Tauranga, and a worker died in a fish processing factory.

Serious injuries in the industry rose sharply by 21% (45) compared with 37 in 2014–15; however, Maritime NZ were unable to provide SAS a breakdown in time for publication.

No security incidents were reported, but oil spills across New Zealand rose to 98, higher than previous years. The increase in serious accidents and spills was partly attributed to a greater reporting regime.

New Zealand port state control conducted 257 ship inspections of international vessels, detaining three ships for breaches related to the Maritime Transport Act and Maritime Labour Convention during the 12 months to July 2019.

The three ships detained were the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Daiwan Justice at Lyttelton for failure to pay crew wages. The second, Wisdom Marine International ship Taiwan Fortune, was also detained in 2018 for failure to pay crew wages. Port state control detained the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Spinnaker SW in Bluff after finding the captain directed his crew to lash logs at height loaded by shore-based stevedores without protected equipment.

No incidents of serious marine casualty involving Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) vessels occurred for the third year running.

Meanwhile, New Zealand also played a key role in supporting Pacific countries with port state control systems and oil spill control.

“Our Marine Pollution Response Service has also been active in the Pacific region, building capability and assisting the Solomon Islands in its response to the oil spill caused by the grounding of a cargo ship in a World Heritage Area,” Maritime NZ chair Jo Brosnahan reported.

“We have continued to deliver the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, funded by NZ Aid. The programme provides maritime safety and maritime incident readiness and response capabilities for our Pacific neighbours, under the umbrella of the government’s wider ‘Pacific Reset’.”

The annual report also highlighted the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adoption of a draft amendment to SOLAS regulation of ships lifting appliances, which New Zealand proposed. Kenny Crawford, deputy director of maritime systems assurance for Maritime NZ, will serve as vice-chair of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Asia Pacific Region (Tokyo MOU).