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Operational limits define the boundaries for changes to the competencies required by seafarers. The training, skills and knowledge required for specific areas and the experience required to operate within these areas are determined by these limits.
Changes made to the operational limits under the new Part 20 include:
- providing a new specified limit to cater for very restricted operations close to shore
- retaining the existing defined inshore limits and adding three new defined limits
- removing the prohibition on assigning an inshore limit to an individual vessel for Cook Strait
- redefining the coastal limit as a uniform 50 nautical miles (NM) from the coasts of New Zealand and Chatham Islands
- extending the offshore limit to the outer limit of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
- extending the unlimited area from the new offshore limit
- allowing port companies and local authorities to obtain extended enclosed limits.
As well as being defined by distance from the shore, in some cases operational limits are defined by distance up and down the coast. The constraints resulting from international maritime obligations are also taken into account.
The operational limits are:
- Specified limit – a permit allowing specific restricted activities very close to shore
- Enclosed – existing enclosed limit
- Inshore – existing defined inshore limits, with three additional defined limits
- Inshore fishing – within the 12NM territorial limit
- Coastal – 50NM off New Zealand and Chatham Islands
- Offshore – to the outer boundary of the EEZ
- Unlimited – beyond the EEZ.
The following combined areas are also applied to some seafarer certificates:
- Restricted limits – enclosed and inshore limits
- Near-coastal – coastal and offshore limits for STCW certificates
- Limited waters – coastal and offshore limits for STCW-F certificates.
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Enclosed waters limit
The enclosed waters limit includes specific areas identified in Appendix 1 of Maritime Rule Part 20 and all New Zealand inland waters. It equates to STCW’s definition of “…inland waters … or waters within sheltered waters”.
STCW requirements do not apply within enclosed limits.
Individual enclosed limits are capable of being expanded to allow “pilotage” limits for certain vessels.
Changes to the inshore limits from those defined in the previous Part 20 include:
- slightly extending the Bay of Plenty limit to allow direct transits between Tauranga harbour and White Island
- extending the Foveaux limit westwards to include Codfish Island
- treating contiguous (adjacent) inshore areas as a single area for the purposes of certificates, survey, crewing and equipment
- allowing surveyors to assign an inshore limit to an individual vessel for Cook Strait (only for vessels of at least 12m and less than 500GT).
The inshore limit encompasses “waters closely adjacent to sheltered waters”, as defined by STCW.
STCW requirements do not apply within the inshore limit, except for vessels of 3000GT or more operating exclusively within restricted limits.
Inshore fishing limit
The inshore fishing limit comprises all the waters within New Zealand’s territorial sea and the waters of the coastal limits north of a line from 36 degrees 42 minutes south, 167 degrees 08 minutes east to 36 degrees 42 minutes south, 167 degrees 18 minutes east that provide direct access to Solander Island from Foveaux Strait.
The coastal limit is a uniform distance of 50NM off the coasts of North, South and Stewart Islands and 50NM off the coast of the Chatham Islands.
For New Zealand purposes, the coastal limit is within “near-coastal waters”, as defined by STCW. Full STCW requirements apply to certificates required for vessels of 24m or longer within the coastal limit.
The offshore limit extends from the coastal limit to the outer limit of the EEZ and is treated as the outer limit of near-coastal waters, as defined by STCW.
Full STCW requirements apply to certificates required for vessels of 24m or longer within the offshore area.
The inner boundary of the unlimited area is the outer boundary of the EEZ.