New Zealand: High Court interprets rules on maritime pilots licences

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Master certificates are issued in New Zealand and overseas in accordance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Pilot training programmes are designed to ensure trainees reach a level of competency that ensures they can operate safely as a Marine Pilot. The Maritime Rules were open to interpretation regarding whether a Master ticket is a necessary pre-requisite, regardless of experience and competency.

The outcome indicated that the High Court has interpreted the current rule to mean generally that those wanting to train as Pilots in New Zealand must hold a Master certificate or the equivalent, said Keith Manch, Chief Executive and Director, Maritime NZ.

However, Navy Officers and Pilots trained overseas – including those who don’t hold Master tickets but have undertaken Ab Initio (from the beginning) training – have a pathway to become Pilots in New Zealand.

This decision clarifies the requirements of the current Maritime Rules regarding education, skills and experience for Pilots in New Zealand. To some extent, it broadens the pool of people available to become Pilots – subject to appropriate training and competency checks. Pilots must have appropriate experience, qualifications and competencies for safe pilotage as they play a crucial role in guiding ships into our ports and harbours – a big responsibility to place on anyone’s shoulders. Maritime NZ’s view is that ultimately what really matters is that the Pilot is competent to undertake this responsibility – regardless of the path they have taken to get to this position,

…he said.

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