FCVs meet deadline to reflag

Most of the 19 FCVs that needed to reflag to New Zealand by May 1 have successfully achieved it.

Ten vessels, originally flagged to Korea, Japan, the Ukraine, and the Commonwealth of Dominica, have reflagged, with the two more very close to finishing the process, says Maritime NZ general manager Maritime Standards, Sharyn Forsyth.

She says the successful reflaggings are a considerable achievement.

“They reflect the commitment by these operators to meeting the New Zealand standards – through bridging courses and other training for senior crew and shore-based managers, and vessel improvements and health and safety plans needed for the ships to meet the requirements under our Seafarers Certification framework, SeaCert; the Maritime Transport Act; and the new Health and Safety at Work Act.”

One of the industry project managers, marine technical consultant Grant Finlayson, of Marine Focus Ltd, coordinated the work for two separate Korean operators, with four FCVs between them. He says the Korean crews embraced the challenge of bridging courses in New Zealand maritime rules and health and safety standards, along with the English language.

“As we progressed the operators became more confident with the process and worked hard to achieve their goal”.

“The requirements needed to reflag have produced a change of culture that will be on-going. Crew now have a greater knowledge and sense of accountability for parts of their operation, such as the maintenance and safety procedures.”

Grant says upskilling will continue with replacement crews already undertaking the New Zealand exams.

He says while vessels already docked annually for a thorough maintenance overhaul, the reflagging process involved specific requirements for vessel improvements under Maritime Rule – Part 40D. Three vessels have undergone maintenance and improvements in Timaru and Lyttelton, and one in Bluff.

The Government’s introduction of a new Bill in 2014 meant FCVs needed to reflag by May this year. The new legislation was the result of a Ministerial inquiry in 2012 into the safety, labour and fishing practices on some foreign-owned vessels.

To monitor compliance with New Zealand laws, Maritime Officers will inspect all vessels reflagged to New Zealand. Maritime NZ will also collect and analyse information gathered by fisheries observers, from the Ministry of Primary Industries, about working and living conditions when the vessels are operating at sea.