Pacific Maritime Safety Programme

The Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP) is aimed at supporting Pacific nations to develop a strong maritime safety culture.

On this page:

About the PMSP

The overall goal of the programme is for Pacific maritime transport that is safe, environmentally-friendly and meets international requirements.

The PMSP is a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme, funded through the International Development Cooperation programme and delivered by Maritime NZ.

MFAT established the programme in 2011, focused initially on the Cook Islands, Kiribati and Tonga. The programme has continued to grow and entered its fourth phase of funding in July 2022, which will support the delivery of activities until 2026.

The countries currently involved in this programme are Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

This programme was established after a series of serious maritime accidents in the Pacific dating back to 2009, some of which had tragic consequences.

These included passenger ferry sinkings in Kiribati and Tonga, with significant loss of life, and the grounding of a cargo ship in Samoa, all in 2009.

More recently, the sinking of the Butiraoi in Kiribati in 2018, with significant loss of life, highlights the ongoing risk in the region.

Our work with the PMSP

We work in partnership with MFAT to deliver this programme, drawing on expertise from throughout Maritime NZ and other government and non-government organisations as needed.

Through the PMSP, we work across five key areas:

  • Community education and awareness – we develop and help deliver educational programmes for artisanal fishers, communities and schools to raise awareness and promote the use of safety euipment.
  • Regulatory capacity – we help countries to develop regulations and the skilled personnel they need to oversee them.
  • Support for education and training of seafarers – we support access to training for maritime personnel.
  • Domestic vessel safety – we work with authorities responsible for the standards of their domestic fleets and support improvements to vessel seaworthiness.
  • Search and rescue and oil pollution response – we work with countries to develop their search and rescue and marine pollution readiness and response capabilities, ensuring plans are in place and providing access to equipment and training.

The programme is flexible and we work with local authorities to tailor the programme to their unique needs and priorities.

PMSP work in the Pacific

‘Our Oceans: Our Future’

Some of the PMSP's work is highlighted in this four minute video about Maritime NZ. The video promotes an understanding of our role in the maritime sector, specifically focusing on our leadership role in the Pacific region, rescue coordination in Antarctica and across the Pacific. It also covers our contribution to international work on the Polar Code designed to reduce safety, environmental and rescue risk in Antarctica.

The video includes the story of one of the PMSP's maritime safety champions, Des Hipa from Niue. These champions help promote maritime safety in their communities and play a key role in the Pacific countries we work with.

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology ©2019
Our Oceans: Our Future

Examples of work the PMSP has done include:

  • Supported the development of a new Maritime Safety Act for Niue and is currently working with the Cook Islands and Tokelau to review their maritime legislation.
  • Supported a substantive repair project for Tuvalu’s government vessel the Manu Folau.
  • Provided search and rescue boats (with support in training and maintenance) for Kiribati, Niue and Tokelau.
  • Provided search and rescue training, delivered by the RCCNZ for all countries in the programme with an emphasis on developing planning and local capacity.
  • Supported innovative community awareness / maritime safety education programmes in Kiribati, Niue and Tokelau.
  • Supported Pacific maritime authorities in vessel inspections, survey and audit of their domestic fleets.
  • Supported the development and implementation of a safety management system for the Tokelau government fleet.
Related information:
Cover of Issue 53
Improving maritime safety in the Pacific: Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 53, July 2018
Read article
Kiribati police rescue trials

New response boat

Read about a purpose-built response boat constructed for the Kiribati Police Maritime Unit.

Full story