Consultation on changes to seafarer certification

Maritime NZ wants to hear from seafarers and others in the maritime industry about proposed changes to the SeaCert seafarer certification framework that would make it easier for those with some older certificates to continue working.

The consultation will run until 7 June, with a series of public meetings planned around the country from mid-May (dates and locations below).

There are currently a large number of different certificates held by seafarers, mostly issued under different regulations before 2000 and known as old or legacy certificates.

These tickets are no longer issued, and many do not have expiry dates, but under current rules holders must move to a new SeaCert certificate. This would involve a cost and mean the certificates would have to be renewed every five years.

After receiving feedback from industry about the impact on seafarers, Maritime NZ is proposing rule changes so that many of these certificates could be ring-fenced – meaning seafarers could continue using the older tickets.

The proposal is that seafarers would have to register, free of charge, by 31 May 2017 if they wanted to ring-fence their certificates, otherwise their tickets will expire.

Ring-fencing is not available to all certificates. A new tool on the Maritime NZ website allows seafarers to get specific advice on each certificate.

Ring-fencing would not be an option for three older certificates:

  • NZ Coastal Master
  • NZ Offshore Master
  • NZ Offshore Watchkeeper

This is because they allow seafarers to work on vessels on which international requirements apply. However, it is proposed to extend the deadline for transition for these certificates.

Other proposed rule changes include removing the need for seafarers with Able Seaman certificates to transition to SeaCert, and no longer requiring ratings to renew certificates every five years. Changes are also proposed to the passenger endorsement requirement.

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the proposed changes would make life easier for most seafarers with older tickets, and avoid delays processing a sudden influx of transition applications to meet the current 31 December 2016 deadline.

“We have listened to the industry and our view is that there is no safety issue in allowing ring-fencing of many older or legacy certificates. This will reduce costs and avoid a last-minute rush of applications to transition by the end of the year that could result in a delay for seafarers being able to operate.”