Policy development

Emerging issues and policy development contribute to our vision of ‘a vibrant viable maritime community that works and plays safely and securely on clean waters’.

Our policy work

Our policy work includes:

  • developing maritime and marine protection rules
  • investigating policy issues and assessing the impact on our existing rules
  • contributing to and analysing international trends, to make sure the regulations and standards we develop are relevant, evidence-based and follow best-practice.

To do this, we engage with the maritime sector, both in New Zealand and overseas.


Developing policy

There are two key steps we take when developing policy – identifying an issue or problem and then resolving it.

An issue may be:

  1. to do with an existing rule – for example, where something has been accidentally missed out or included
  2. a requirement that over time has become inadequate or not fit for purpose
  3. a requirement that is impacted by new technical developments or a change in regulations.

Often we identify an issue from industry or public feedback. However, to identify a problem we may first need to clearly define the scope, scale and seriousness of the issue.

To resolve a problem we may:

  1. take no action – if the scale or impact of the problem does not justify taking action at the moment
  2. change an operational policy – if the problem can be solved at an operational level, without needing any policy changes
  3. educate the maritime community
  4. make new law – for example, amending an existing (or writing a new) Rule, Act or international Convention.

Which option we use to resolve a problem can depend on our assessment of factors like enforceability, costs versus benefits, and our ability to resolve the problem through non-regulatory means. We do this assessment on a case-by-case basis.


International engagement

We engage with a wide range of international maritime organisations to make sure New Zealand’s maritime policy is in keeping with international best practice and where possible, other states’ policies. The resulting seamless movement of ships, personnel and goods between New Zealand and other states benefits our maritime industry.

At an operational policy (practical) level, we also engage with a wide range of international maritime organisations, particularly to fulfil our obligations under various maritime conventions. For example:

  • we provide oil spill response within the Pacific region
  • we help new Zealanders to get employment on foreign flagged ships by ensuring their qualification is recognised by other states.

The International Maritime Organization is often the focal point for this engagement.

The International Maritime Organization

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations – made up of 170 member-states, including New Zealand. It is responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

As the global standard-setting authority, the IMOs main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

The IMOs measures cover all aspects of international shipping – including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal.

Key treaties of the International Maritime Organization (all of which New Zealand has adopted) include:

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
  • International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Our work with the International Maritime Organization

We coordinate New Zealand’s input to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). We also help Pacific Island countries to implement key aspects of IMO conventions.

New Zealand has been an active and well-respected member of the IMO since 1960. Our country was elected to the IMO Council at the 25th Regular Session of the IMO Assembly in London in November 2007. This gave New Zealand the opportunity and honour to join with other states that share similar objectives of flag-state responsibility, including coastal-state responsibilities.

We work to ensure our engagement with the IMO achieves a balance of safety, security, environmental and economic priorities.

Several other government agencies also attend IMO meetings including, the Ministry of Transport, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry for the Environment.

Our other international engagement

We engage at various levels with representatives from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). We continue to have a close working relationship with the AMSA on areas of common strategic and operational importance.