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March 2022 Maritime NZ: Sea-Change - Enchanter capsize .. NZ borders to open

by Compiled by Richard Gladwell, 14 Mar 2022 17:17 PDT 15 March 2022
Chief Pilot Roger Hortop looks out on the 60kt winds and 5metre plus sea state from where four sailors were rescued by Westpac Helicopter Trust crews © Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust
Latest issue of SeaChange March 2022
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Issue 87

March 2022

SeaChange brings you news you can use to stay safe on the water, plus updates from Maritime NZ and the maritime sector. Remember to 'view in browser' to see all the images below. 

Putting safety first

Kia ora koutou

I hope you've managed to stay safe over the past few weeks. Now that Omicron cases have peaked in Auckland and the Government has started to ease restrictions, fingers crossed life will start to become more settled.

As you'll know, earlier this month a fishing trip ended in tragedy when the Enchanter capsized off North Cape. My thoughts are with the family, loved ones and friends of the five passengers who lost their lives and of those who survived the ordeal. I'd also like to commend the members of our Rescue Coordination Centre NZ on their crucial role in leading the rescue, as well as all the others involved in the rescue effort, in tricky conditions. You can read more about this below.

Also in this issue, we share the story of how a last-minute decision to buy a personal locator beacon proved instrumental in helping save two friends when their boating trip went wrong. 

Here's the complete list of articles:

  • COVID-19 update
  • How a well-planned adventure turned into a potential disaster
  • Meet our crew (Chief Advisor of Regulatory Policy, Stuart Day)
  • Enchanter tragedy: how events unfolded and RCCNZ's role in the rescue
  • Time to get your feedback in on 40-Series Reform initiative
  • Intoxicated drivers have no place operating vessels
  • Heading out fishing? Follow these tips to help keep plastic out of our ocean
  • Marine Protection Rules to reduce air pollution approved
  • Celebrating sustainability milestone
  • Commercial operators: call to update details
  • Pacific Maritime Safety Programme update

Ng mihi

Kirstie Hewlett
Director and Chief Executive 

COVID-19 update

A lot has happened over the past month, with the Government's phased reopening of the air border accelerating, border settings changing rapidly, and  many of the COVID-19 restrictions easing.

Other important developments include:
  • Eligible travellers arriving by air into New Zealand no longer need to self-isolate, including non-vaccinated New Zealanders  this is good news for maritime and port-related businesses who have struggled to find staff.
  • MIQ facilities are being scaled back however, some MIQ spaces remain for a reduced number of travellers and for maritime crew who need to quarantine before heading to the Pacific Islands and for other maritime crew as needed.
  • Changes to the temporary medical exemption process for people who are unable to receive their vaccination or booster due to their COVID-19 illness. If you have two or more workers needing an exemption, you can apply as a group. Check the process
  • Online vessel exemption applications it's now easier to apply for vessel exemptions. See application form
  • Isolation process for critical workers  critical workers who are in a household where someone has tested positive may be able to continue working if they're fully vaccinated, don't have symptoms and return a negative Rapid Antigen Test before going to work every day.

Stay up to date with the latest information

Remember, you'll find regularly updated COVID-19 information on our website, including the Maritime Industry Update. If you have any questions, please contact us at 

How a well-planned adventure turned into a potential disaster

A disastrous outcome for two mates was averted thanks to a hired personal locater beacon (PLB), Maritime NZ Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ), the Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and a local fishing vessel.

The mates  Andrew and Paul launched an 11.5ft inflatable dinghy at Birdlings Flat on 2 February, 2022. They planned to make a close-to-shore-trip around Banks Peninsula with an overnight stop at Hickory Bay before continuing to Charteris Bay. They wore full wetsuits and lifejackets and were equipped with a VHF radio, two cell phones, and a hired PLB. The weather was favourable and the trip was relatively smooth, until they headed around Pompeys Pillar.

They were approximately 30 metres away from cliffs when the outboard motor prop became tangled with a piece of rope debris. While Andrew tried to clear the prop, larger waves and a gust of wind capsized the dinghy. He and Paul scrambled onto the overturned dinghy and tried unsuccessfully to paddle to shore. After several attempts they managed to flip the dingy upright.

Their two cell phones received no signal and their many Pan Pan Pan calls on Andrew's hand-held VHF radio went unanswered.  

Despite efforts to row, the current and strong wind gusts thwarted them, pulling them further out to sea. They attempted to restart the engine but it showed no signs of life. Getting closer to dusk, the pair realised they'd be harder to locate in the dark. That's when they decided to activate the PLB.


Meet our crew

Chief Advisor of Regulatory Policy, Stuart Day, and son, Roman, before going on the Banana Boat in Whitianga 
As a trading nation a long way from our main markets, a smoothly operating supply chain is critical for New Zealanders to earn a living, and have a range of product choices.

Chief Advisor of Regulatory Policy, Stuart Day, loves working for a sector that has a very direct impact on New Zealands wellbeing, and though hes relatively new to Maritime NZ, he already feels like he can make a difference. Hes currently involved in the cross-agency Maritime Border Programme, leading the advice on how and when cruise travel can safely return to New Zealand.


Enchanter tragedy: how events unfolded and the role RCCNZ played in the rescue

On Sunday, 20 March, at around 8pm, an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) was activated from a charter fishing vessel the Enchanter  off the North Cape.

Onboard were 10 people, including two crew and eight customers. When the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) attempted to contact the vessel, there was no response.

Weather conditions when the distress call came in were very rough. There were significant swells and winds gusted up to 65 knots. The RCCNZ tasked a winch-capable helicopter from Whangarei, and another from Auckland. The Whangarei helicopter located the wreck at 11.41pm and winched three people to safety. After dropping the people off on land, the helicopter returned to the wreck site and saved two more people. Five people remained unaccounted for.

Conditions started to calm as daylight broke. Fishing vessels in the area joined the search, while the HMNZS Taupo, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft also joined the search. Due to the winds, tides and currents, the search had to cover a wide area, all of which was thoroughly checked. The team also worked with experts to get an understanding of survival potential for anyone who might be in the water, and tasked searchers to help check the shore-line as well. As the day went on, four of the five people missing were recovered. Sadly, they were all deceased.

Late on the afternoon of Tuesday 22 March, the body of the fifth missing person was found, after the Police Dive Squad managed to get into the overturned hull of the Enchanter.

This was a challenging event for the team at RCCNZ, who worked across several days and shifts. The team worked with a wide range of partner agencies to do whatever was possible to bring those onboard home. The thoughts of everyone involved at the RCCNZ and the wider Maritime NZ team goes out to all those impacted by the tragedy.

Time to get your feedback in on 40-Series Reform initiative

Theres just a few days left to have your say on Maritime NZs 40-Series 'exploring change' documents proposing updates to the surveys and certificates of survey, electrical, and fire protection rules.

Stakeholder feedback is being sought on proposed changes, and we're hoping to receive it by April 4 or as soon after as possible. See here for a summary of the key ideas and questions, and read the 'exploring change' documents for more details. All feedback is welcome.

The 40-Series Reform project is a multi-year project  to reform the design, construction and equipment rules for domestic commercial vessels currently covered in a number of different rule parts. 

Feedback in this exploring change stage is not formal public consultation. It will be used to help inform the proposals that will then be publicly consulted on in 2024.


Intoxicated drivers have no place operating vessels

Maritime NZ is reinforcing the message that people impaired with drugs and alcohol have no place behind the wheel. The warning follows a recent judgment in the Queenstown District Court and a coroner's report into a separate jet boating accident.

In the first incident, a commercial jet boat crashed near Queenstown on 26 January 2020, injuring four of the 23 on board. A toxicology report found the driver had a mix of both drugs and alcohol in their system at the time of the crash. Both the tourism operator and the driver were sentenced. Read more

Similarly, alcohol played a significant role in a fatal jet boating incident near the Wairaurahiri River mouth on 7 September 2019. The coroner concluded, "alcohol consumed by an experienced and skilful jet boater likely affected his boat driving and contributed to the hypothermia which caused his death.

It's clear that alcohol and drug use can endanger the lives of everyone on board, and has no place on any vessel, commercial or recreational.

How can you tell if drugs are on board? And what should you do if a member of your crew is intoxicated? For signs and symptoms to be aware of, as well as tips on writing an effective policy and ideas for ways to help support someone with an addiction, visit our website.

Heading out fishing? Follow these tips to help keep plastic out of our ocean

Lost or discarded fishing gear is a common cause of plastic pollution in the marine environment.

The potential harm caused by marine plastic pollution extends to fisheries, aquaculture, human health, and marine ecosystems. The good news is: preventing and minimising further plastic-related harm is entirely achievable, but requires an understanding of the drivers behind avoidable loss of fishing gear.

Research suggests that gear maintenance can be the most effective way of preventing losing gear overboard along with training crew to handle both active and end-of-life gear. It's also important to ensure that losses are reported to relevant authorities, which is why mandatory reporting requirements are in place.

Marine Protection Rule Part 170 prohibits the discharge of plastic waste, with few exceptions. While fishing, ensure you have access to receptacles for securely stowing any plastic waste, including gear not in use. Pre-trip briefings for those on board are a good way to make sure everyone understands the important role they play in keeping all onboard plastics out of the water.

We encourage commercial operators to update their Maritime Transport Operating Plan (MTOP), and if applicable, garbage management plan, to document loss prevention measures and gear loss-reporting channels. Owners and masters must ensure the plans are both understood and adhered to, by their crew.

Among other responsibilities, some operators are required to have garbage management placards in place. If you need help meeting this requirement, you're welcome to order placard stickers via our website. These are free for both commercial and recreational vessels. 

If you're unclear about your responsibilities for managing garbage including fishing gear, read about our rules and advice.

Marine Protection Rules to reduce air pollution approved

On 16 March 2022, the Minister of Transport, Hon Michael Wood, signed the new Marine Protection Rules Part 199: Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships (Part 199).

The rules will reduce air pollution from ships and provide a cleaner environment for marine life and for everyone who enjoys New Zealands coastline. 

Part 199 contains detailed requirements to bring the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI into effect in New Zealand.

We can now join more than 100 other countries by acceding to MARPOL Annex VI in April 2022. Part 199 will come into effect three months later, says Peter Brunt, Deputy Director Regulatory Systems Design for Maritime NZ.

To comply with Part 199, most ship operators will need to reduce harmful engine emissions by using low sulphur fuels and some by only operating engines which have been proven to keep nitrogen oxides emissions within specific limits. Some substances are now prohibited from being incinerated on ships, to prevent the emission of harmful toxins from shipboard incinerators. Part 199 also controls the use of ozone depleting substances on New Zealand ships, and ensures they're properly disposed of.

The rules include energy efficiency requirements for larger ships to ensure that, over time, New Zealands fleet will become less carbon intensive. Some requirements of Part 199 don't apply to older ships. For example, ships that were constructed before 1 January 2000. However, as these ships are retired, the rules require replacement ships to be designed and operated in more energy efficient ways. The Part 199 design requirements for new ships also apply to ships that are imported after the rules come into effect.

Part 199 survey and certification for commercial ships will start from 1 January 2023, except for ships that are new to the fleet, which will need to meet the Part 199 requirements once the rules are in force.

Peter adds, It has taken a huge amount of work to get to this point, including input and feedback from industry stakeholders such as ship owners, fishing operators, the petroleum industry, port authorities and government agencies, overseen by the Ministry of Transport.  Thank you to everyone who participated.

The Part 199 rules will soon be available on our website. The date on which they come into force will be announced after New Zealand accedes to MARPOL Annex VI, and is likely to be around the middle of this year. We'll also publish information and guidance on how to comply with the new rules over the coming weeks.

Celebrating sustainability milestone

Maritime NZ is now a Toit carbonreduce certified organisation, which means we're recognised as an organisation that is measuring and reducing our carbon footprint, in line with international best practice.

Were committed to reducing emissions from our own activities, demonstrating leadership and showcasing positive action to our industry.

Receiving the Toit certification is an important milestone in our sustainability journey, and significant work was done across the organisation to achieve this. We recognise there is still a long way to go and will continue to progress this work.

Commercial operators: call to update details

Wed like to ensure we have your correct contact and vessel details.

If you've recently sold or purchased a vessel and haven't advised us, please fill out a Change of Vessel Status form and email it to Alternatively, you can call 0508 672 378 and well help update your vessel details.

If your contact details have changed, please let us know by emailing or calling 0508 22 55 22.

Pacific Maritime Safety Programme update

The Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP) has continued to deliver key safety initiatives in our partner countries, despite COVID-19-related travel restrictions limiting the teams ability to visit in person.

The PMSP works with Pacific countries to improve their maritime safety. It's delivered by a small team within Maritime NZ, and funded and administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Initiatives are developed in collaboration with Pacific governments to ensure they're tailored for the individual countrys requirements. Recent initiatives include:

Legislative reform project  supporting improvements to the regulatory frameworks in participating countries. Many Pacific countries have maritime legislation that's out of date or doesn't provide governments with the regulatory tools they need to manage their maritime sector. We've supported Niue in developing a new Maritime Transport Act enacted in October last year. We're also working with the Cook Islands, supporting the review and drafting of new domestic legislation, and with Tokelau, looking at what sort of regulatory framework might be appropriate for the countrys three atolls.

Providing distress beacons to Kiribati  to be sold at a heavily subsidised rate to fishers. The recent batch of 100 EPIRBs provided to Kiribatis Marine Department marks the third tranche of distress beacons distributed under the programme. The Marine Department issues them as part of an extensive maritime safety education programme and they're becoming  widely used by the countrys numerous small-scale fishers.

Water skills for life programme in Niue  delivering essential water survival lessons to the countrys primary school-age children. This programme is in its third year and is taught in the New Zealand High Commission pool and in the sea by Niues primary school teachers. See photos above.

Are there any particular topics or safety issues you'd like us to explore? We want to make sure our content is as relevant and interesting as possible, so if there's something you'd like to read about, we'd love to know.
Please email us at with 'SeaChange suggestions' as the subject line.

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