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New Zealand review finds ‘sound framework’ in place for coastal navigation

New Zealand review finds ‘sound framework’ in place for coastal navigation
New Zealand’s maritime authority has shared on Thursday that a review of coastal navigation safety found that there is a “sound framework in place” to manage the movement of ships around the country’s coastline.

The review, which started in April last year, was prompted by an anticipated increase in the number of ship visits to New Zealand, a trend toward larger ships, and technology changes in navigational aids, according to Keith Manch, director of Maritime NZ.

“Previous studies have indicated that ship volumes and other existing hazards around New Zealand do not meet international criteria for imposing shipping lanes or mandatory routes and the review indicates that this is still the case,” Manch said.

“Incidents like the Rena grounding would not necessarily be prevented if shipping lanes were in place – in the case of the Rena, poor watch-keeping and navigation were identified as key contributing factors.”

The review also followed a Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) recommendation following the grounding of Rena that Maritime NZ collect data on shipping movements around the New Zealand coast, and monitor and control the use of virtual aids to navigation around the coast.

Manch pointed out that recent access to ship tracking data based on ships’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) enabled Maritime NZ to examine the routes taken by ships.

Following the review, work will now be done to improve management of aids to navigation, including virtual aids, which use electronic systems – rather than physical marks or beacons – to alert ships to navigation hazards through their AIS systems.

“This is a fast-moving area of technology and it’s proving challenging to manage internationally. We will look to develop a strategy to plan how to lead management of virtual aids to navigation around New Zealand,” Manch said.

The review identified two areas of potentially higher risk relative to other locations – the Hauraki Gulf and Colville Channel, and Cook Strait – when passenger vessels and other hazards were considered in combination.

Manch said around 120 ships’ masters, harbourmasters, pilots and other water users provided their input into the review.

Other review recommendations include linking with Australia to improve the approach to port state control inspections carried out on foreign-flagged vessels with more than 60% of ships arriving or leaving New Zealand waters also travelling to or from Australia.

“Australia uses a sophisticated data collection and risk profiling tool to manage port state control inspections and we will be discussing with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) what can be done to join up our two systems,” Manch said.