Recommendation Date
Recipient Name
It is probable that if an aid to navigation of some type had been installed on Astrolabe Reef, the Rena grounding would have been prevented. However, there are many such isolated dangers to navigation around the coast of New Zealand. Installing and maintaining physical navigational aids on remote hazards is costly. Virtual aids to navigation are potentially a cost-effective means of marking such isolated dangers. However, these are still being trialled by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities and no performance criteria have yet been set regarding their accuracy and intended use. The Commission noted during its inquiry that although the technology is relatively new and there is no regulatory framework in place, some port authorities are already beginning to use virtual aids to navigation. There is a potential safety issue around the use of aids to navigation that have not been fully tested.

The Commission recommends that the Director of Maritime New Zealand consider the use of virtual aids to navigation and monitor progress through the International Air Transport Association (IATA) of the development of performance criteria for them, but meanwhile work with regional councils and port companies to control the use of virtual aids to navigation until they have been fully assessed and appropriate performance criteria set by IATA and Maritime New Zealand.
Reply Text
The Director of Maritime New Zealand accepts this recommendation (noting that the references to IATA are erroneous and should be a reference to IALA) and notes that in its Statement of Intent 2014-2020 Maritime New Zealand has included a Review of Costal Navigation Safety as a key strategic review of the safety regulatory system. The Director of Maritime New Zealand initiated this review in August 2014 and the review will consider the use of navigation aids (including virtual aids) as part of its inquiry. The Terms of Reference for the review are attached and include timelines for key deliverables.

In addition The Director of Maritime New Zealand established (in 2012) a joint MNZ/Regional Council CEs' group to facilitate cross agency engagement and promotion of navigation safety matters. A significant initiative, led by Maritime New Zealand, in the first year of the establishment of the group has been the conduct of an environmental scan of the New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code. The findings of that scan will inform the Coastal Navigation Safety Review and the cross-agency co-ordinated responses to the findings are expected to address the recommendations of the Commission.
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