Global shipping giant Maersk has announced a new service called Sirius Star which will use two overseas flagged Maersk ships with an entirely foreign crew rotating through five New Zealand ports and two in Fiji.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says Maersk should be crewing these ships with New Zealand seafarers.
The ships will be moving containers around New Zealand ports to assist with the port congestion at Ports of Auckland after a series of management failures.
Mr Harrison says under the Maritime Transport Act, overseas flagged vessels can carry domestic goods between New Zealand ports, as long as it is part of an international service.
He says Maersk are using the Fiji leg of the operation to get around the intent of the law, because most of the cargo involved will be domestic New Zealand freight.
“Maersk makes a large profit out of its international shipping operations to and from New Zealand, and has a social responsibility to ensure New Zealand has a trained and skilled seafaring workforce.”
He says there is now only one New Zealand flagged and crewed coastal container ship, Moana Chief, which is operated by Pacifica Shipping, part of the Swires Group.
Mr Harrison says the Government has committed to rebuilding New Zealand coastal shipping, which is a low-carbon transport mode that would contribute to reducing emissions, but there needed to be immediate action.
He says it is unreasonable that New Zealand domestic shipping was levied under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme for carbon credits and that international shipping working on the New Zealand coast was not.
The Maritime Union is campaigning to rebuild the New Zealand domestic coastal shipping fleet.