The Maritime Union is backing calls for the Government to get behind the coastal shipping sector.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says New Zealand is a maritime nation but there was no leadership from central Government for the industry.
Other transport modes were being subsidised by the taxpayer, but New Zealand shipping was expected to compete against foreign shipping where wages and conditions of crew members were far below New Zealand standards.
The release of “Full Steam Ahead”, a report on coastal shipping by the New Zealand Shipping Federation, was timely and needed to be listened to.
“The case made by the Shipping Federation for greater support for coastal shipping is a strong one and many of the points in their report have the support of New Zealand seafarers.”
Mr Fleetwood says the need for building New Zealand’s maritime skill base and capacity was important, and an ageing maritime workforce was a serious concern for the industry.
The environmental advantage of coastal shipping over road transport was another major factor, as was the role of coastal shipping in civil emergencies such as earthquakes, which could disrupt land based transport.
The ongoing examples of issues with flag of convenience shipping in New Zealand waters, and problems with international crews and vessels in both the fishing and freight sectors, needed to be taken seriously by the Government.
“New Zealand’s future is as a maritime nation. We have one of the largest maritime economic zones in the world, with vast resources that can be used in the future for our common benefit. But there is no plan, no strategy and no vision from the Government for our coastal shipping sector.”
Mr Fleetwood welcomed the commitment of the Labour Party to a coastal shipping strategy from central Government when elected.
The Maritime Union supports a high skill, high productivity maritime industry with excellent safety standards, wages and conditions.