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The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 came into force for New Zealand on 9 March 2017, 12 months after we ratified it.

The Convention is an international treaty adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). It came into force internationally in August 2013. 

The Convention sets internationally-agreed minimum standards to address the health, safety and welfare of seafarers in areas such as:

  • conditions of employment
  • accommodation
  • recreational facilities
  • food and catering
  • health protection
  • medical care
  • welfare and social protection issues.

New Zealand has ratified the Convention because:

  • it gives New Zealand jurisdiction to inspect and verify that crews on ships carrying New Zealand goods are treated fairly, in accordance with internationally accepted standards
  • ratification protects the reputation of New Zealand exports, given that more than 99 percent of New Zealand’s export goods by weight are transported by foreign ships
  • New Zealand ships are now able to obtain a Maritime Labour Certification which will enable them to easily demonstrate compliance to foreign authorities party to the Convention.


The Convention was developed over a number of years through negotiations between governments, shipping and employer representatives and unions to ensure that its provisions are sensible, pragmatic and reflect operating best practice.

The Convention consolidates and updates 37 existing International Labour Organisation standards and conventions, many of which New Zealand had already adopted.

There are now 84 member countries, representing over 90 per cent of the world’s ships by gross tonnage.

Minor changes were made to New Zealand Maritime Rules to enable New Zealand to fulfil its obligations under the Convention. You can find out more about these changes at the links below:

The Convention applies to all New Zealand ships that are:

  • New Zealand-registered
  • of 200 gross tonnage and over, or smaller ships engaged in international voyages
  • ordinarily engaged in commercial activities, excluding ships engaged in fishing or similar pursuits; and
  • operating outside the inshore limits

The Convention applies to all foreign ships that are:

  • In a New Zealand port