The challenges of working at sea — repetitive tasks, long hours, missing family and friends — can make crews more vulnerable to substances like alcohol, methamphetamine and cannabis.
But all substance use carries a risk of harm. On a fishing vessel, it's a safety hazard that can endanger the person impaired by substances as well as those around them.
So please read the information below. It's aimed at helping you manage the risks of impairment from drugs and alcohol on board, and we put it together to help protect you, your crew, and your livelihood.
What do fishers think about drugs and alcohol on board?
Early in 2019 we carried out a survey to find out about fishers' awareness of, and thoughts about, drugs and alcohol on board fishing vessels.Find out results
Are drugs on your vessel? Here's how to tell
Even if you don't think anyone's using drugs on board at the moment, it pays to be aware of the signs. Some of them might come as a surprise.See the signs
How can you tell if someone's on meth?
If you ever suspect someone is impaired from meth but they don't display any clear symptoms, here's a list of signs to look out for.See the signs
Could cannabis damage your business?
What makes cannabis a risk on your vessel — and what can you do to protect a cannabis user and the rest your crew from harm?Find out now
Illegal drugs aren't the only risk
Alcohol and prescription medication can cause similar levels of impairment to illegal drugs. So what steps can you take to minimise the risks of legal drugs on board?Follow the steps
Test your drug and alcohol awareness
How well do you understand drugs and alcohol — and the risks that come with being impaired while at sea? Because it's such a complex issue, we've put together a quick quiz to test how much you know.Take the quiz now
What should you do if drugs are on board?
Drug addiction is a health issue. It should be treated seriously and, if possible, with professional help. Find out how to support someone with a drug problem.How to help
Is your drug and alcohol policy as effective as it could be?
Now is a good time to review your policy to see if there's room for improvement. Follow our 8 ways to help make sure your drug and alcohol policy is effective as it could be.Improve your policy
What does the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) say?
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, all crew must take reasonable care to ensure that nothing they do on board harms themselves or any other person. Both operators and skippers must make sure the vessel is safe and involve the entire crew in managing any risks. A drugs and alcohol policy plays an important role in doing this.
Report any accident
A master or skipper must report any accident, incident or serious harm injury under section 31 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994. This applies to all New Zealand vessels. You must report an accident “as soon as practicable”. This means as soon as you are able to do so after you have secured the safety of people, your boat and the environment, and when you have communication available.
Sometimes people are concerned that reporting an accident or incident to MNZ will result in prosecution. In exceptional circumstances, MNZ may use the information provided to support an investigation, however this is very rarely the case.
This information is general guidance only. If you have questions about your responsibilities under HSWA, we suggest talking to your local maritime officer; but for specific advice about your legal duties or setting up your business, we recommend talking to a lawyer.