The Secretary for Transport is currently the departmental head responsible for maritime under the Merchant Shipping Act and the Harbours Act, the two main pieces of governing legislation for the sector.

Maritime safety matters including the PNG register of ships, safety certification of all PNG registered vessels over 10m length, port state control of the safety of visiting foreign flagged ships, adherence to the international safety conventions of the IMO, certification of ship’s crew, control of marine pollution, coordination of maritime search and rescue, maritime navigation aids and small craft safety are now the responsibility of the National Maritime Safety Authority under legislation enacted in 2003.


Institutions in Maritime Transport Sector
Maritime Sector Institutional Structure

The DOT Maritime Transport Division (MTD) is responsible for administering coastal trading licences and permits required for vessels to trade on the PNG coast and to the recognised limits of navigation on inland waterways. MTD also advises the minister on shipping matters and has responsibility for coastal development of port facilities outside of the declared ports, except where these functions have been delegated elsewhere by the Secretary of Transport.

Maritime security matters including PNG’s compliance with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) regime of the IMO, is administered by a separate Maritime Security Unit within the DOT, which acts as a coordinating agency for maritime security among the other Government agencies.

The Coasting Trade Committee (CTC) is a committee of advice established under the Merchant Shipping Act and charged with advising the minister on coasting trade matters, reporting on proposed legislation and recommending maximum freight rates on coastal services. It has also customarily given advice on the issue of coasting trade licences and permits. The CTC is chaired by an officer of the DOT and otherwise comprises two representatives of shippers of goods, one representative of the coastal shipping trade and three holders of coasting trade licences.

PNG Ports Corporation Ltd (PNGPCL) is a state owned enterprise (SOE) falling under the umbrella of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC). IPBC acts as the keeper of the Government’s interest and a holding corporation for several SOEs and on occasion assists in raising finance. PNGPCL presently derives its powers by delegation from the Secretary of Transport under the Harbours Act. Its primary responsibility is to manage and develop the infrastructure at the Government’s declared ports. It also acts as port manager and provides certain port services, such as harbour pilots and towing. Stevedoring and ancillary activities are provided under licence to PNGPCL by the private sector. Under its present delegation, PNGPCL also has regulatory powers over development in declared ports and outside of declared ports.

The Government ports are a regulated industry under the ICCC Act, and PNGPCL has a regulatory contract with ICCC which specifies maximum berthage and wharfage tariffs and rates of tariff increase tied to considerations concerning capital investment in port facilities and the implied obligation that PNG Ports subsidise loss-making ports from its more profitable operations.