The Maritime Union says extra caution is needed in New Zealand ports following more cases of COVID-19 on overseas vessels.
Maritime Union National Secretary Craig Harrison says overseas ships have to come into New Zealand, but vigilance is required.
The Marshall Islands-flagged container ship Mattina in Bluff has two COVID positive crew members aboard, with the entire crew under quarantine on the vessel.
A vaccinated pilot from Southport had been aboard the vessel, but no other workers had been.
Mr Harrison says a recent spike in COVID cases amongst overseas crew members is concerning to port workers.
New, more virulent strains of COVID are another threat, he says.
However, if safety procedures were strictly followed with the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and physical distancing, then risk could be minimised.
The vaccination of all port workers coming into proximity with overseas vessels is another priority, says Mr Harrison.
“The reality is we require ships coming into New Zealand with essential imports, so we have to keep to best practice and constantly evaluate any new risks.”
Mr Harrison says global shipping companies should be doing more to ensure international crew are vaccinated and tested.
He says seafarers are providing an essential service to New Zealand, and there is an obligation by New Zealand to ensure their health and wellbeing is considered.