Adherence to International Conventions

 Papua New Guinea has been a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) since 1976, and is a signatory to the following international maritime safety conventions:

  • Load Lines Convention 1966
  • Tonnage Convention 1969
  • Collisions Prevention (COLREG) 1972
  • Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974
  • Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCWS), 1978
  • Search and Rescue (SAR) 1979

Ensuring PNG’s compliance with the above international safety conventions is primarily the responsibility of the NMSA, with oversight from the IMO. PNG will accede to future conventions as appropriate.

Through these and other safety, security and environmental control measures, the Government will seek to raise PNG’s standing in the Asia/Pacific region and to come into full compliance with the international conventions that it is signatory to.

Ship Registration and Marine Survey

All vessels of 10m length and above operating on the PNG coast are required to be registered. NMSA will engage with port owners, provincial governments and others on an ongoing basis to discover unregistered vessels and require that they either be surveyed and registered or be withdrawn from service. This includes fishing vessels which are licensed by the Fisheries Authority but are frequently neither registered or surveyed, which will be brought into compliance over a five year period. The NMSA is also responsible under its existing legislation for safety regulation of oil and gas offshore platforms and support vessels operating from PNG ports.

All vessels that are required to be registered must first undergo a survey of their seaworthiness carried out by a marine surveyor who has been registered with NMSA as a fit, proper and competent person to carry out such work. Vessels must undergo survey periodically and after any alteration to the vessel. The NMSA is responsible for vessel inspection and issuing Safety Certificates for vessels that have passed survey and satisfied other requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act 1975.

It will be a requirement that any public agency intending to acquire lease or charter a vessel inform NMSA of its intention prior to such action and satisfy NMSA of the suitability of the vessel for the intended service, including the supply of construction drawings, specifications and survey certification if requested. NMSA will be empowered to require any additional inspection that it deems necessary. Where public agencies fail to comply, NMSA will not include these vessels on the register and will be empowered to detain them until compliance is met.

Crew Registration

 Crew on registered ships are required to hold certificates of competency, issued through the NMSA. The NMSA will maintain and update records of seafarers using its secure data system, to help ensure that qualified and competent persons are engaged as ships’ crew. NMSA will audit the crew certification process to ensure that qualifications and experience are true and accurate.

To encourage PNG nationals into the industry, Government will require that vessels licensed to trade on the PNG coast and all PNG flagged foreign going vessels be required to provide up to two berths for apprentice or cadet seafarers, depending on the crew size for the vessel, and to provide a career path for the advancement of capable people.

Port State Control

 PNG, in common with many other countries in the Asia Pacific Region, is a full member to the Tokyo MOU on Port State control (PSC). This has the objective of eliminating substandard international shipping visiting PNG ports so as to promote maritime safety, to protect the marine environment and to safeguard working and living conditions on board.

This requires the maritime authorities to detain foreign flagged vessels where these do not comply with the international maritime conventions covered within the Tokyo MOU. Under this convention, ships under a particular country flag are inspected and rated, and the ranking classified into black, grey and white lists. The compliance of PNG flagged ships visiting overseas ports is similarly inspected and rated.

The NMSA, in conjunction with port owners/operators and others, will work to increase its inspection of foreign flagged vessels entering PNG waters to improve its level of compliance with Tokyo MOU standards, and will apply domestic legislation to bring PNG flagged vessels up to white list status.

Safety of Small Craft and Community Education

 Legislation governing the safety of small craft (under 10m length), the Small Craft Act provides for the construction, equipping, operation, registration and safe use of small craft and related matters.

Provincial Small Craft Registers will be established under the legislation, with provisions for the NMSA to appoint members to the Provincial Registration Boards and to direct the registrar and inspectors established under the boards in certain matters in the event of delay or inaction.

The NMSA will form partnerships with the Department of Education and provincial governments to encourage small craft safety through education programmes and sponsorships for safety equipment, building on the NMSA designed “Small Water Craft Safety” courses which have been accredited by the Department of Education from 2011.

Maritime Navigation and Safety in PNG Waters

 PNG, through the NMSA, is a member of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) and will continue to restore and maintain its marine navaids, provide hydrographic services, coastguard and marine surveillance systems to meet the standards established by the IALA, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the IMO.

This will include:

  • Ensuring that marine navigation charts are complete, accurate and up-to-date, together with other nautical publications;
    Applying best asset management practice for maritime navaids for PNG waters including the navigable river systems, and including local community engagement programmes;
  • Ensuring that new navaids are provided where required for safe navigation and that missing or damage navaids are replaced or restored;
  • Ensuring ongoing maintenance of navaids, that repairs and replacements are effected promptly with a system for reporting and publicly notifying where marks and beacons are damaged or otherwise unserviceable and maximum times for remedial action;
  • Maintaining and operating the PNG Automatic Identification System (AIS) for vessel tracking and monitoring and requiring that all vessels trading in PNG waters carry the necessary equipment in operating condition;
  • Establishing the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) for maritime radio communications to support SAR activities and supplement existing radio telephone and coastal radio services.

Maritime Search and Rescue

 The Government has the objective of progressively building the capacity and extent of coverage of its maritime search and rescue (SAR) capability.