Maritime New Zealand has conducted a review of coastal navigation safety to assess and contribute to a comprehensive analysis of factors contributing to risks to navigation safety in the coastal area.

According to Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch, the review, which commenced in April last year, was completed in the wake of an increase in the number of ship visits to New Zealand, coastal areas being frequented by larger ships and technology changes in navigational aids.

Manch said: "Previous studies have indicated that ship volumes and other existing hazards around New Zealand do not meet international criteria for imposing shipping lanes or mandatory routes and the review indicates that this is still the case."

"This review does not indicate an immediate risk to vessels or water users in these areas."

It is also deemed to have been undertaken as a response to Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) recommendation following the grounding of the vessel Rena.

The review involved drawing analysis for a safe navigation of large ships over 500t and fishing vessels over 45m-long in New Zealand’s territorial waters (within 12nm of the coast).

The review identified two main areas which are more vulnerable to risks, the Hauraki Gulf and Colville Channel, and Cook Strait.

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Manch added: "This review does not indicate an immediate risk to vessels or water users in these areas, but we will be working with harbourmasters, pilots, ferry operators, and the coastal shipping industry to look at how risks are managed in these areas, and whether there are any gaps."

After the review, measures will be undertaken to enhance management of aids to navigation, including virtual aids.

It will adopt electronic systems replacing physical marks or beacons to alert ships against any potential navigation hazards through their AIS systems.

The review will further cover recommendation to link with Australia to improve the approach to port State control inspections carried out on foreign-flagged vessels.

According to Manch, New Zealand authority seeks to integrate the Australian sophisticated data collection and risk profiling tool, to manage port State control inspections, with the New Zealand leveraged technology.