Skippers must undertake checks before departure

"Failing to ensure a vessel has enough fuel for a journey puts everyone on board at risk."

The prosecution of a charter boat skipper highlights the need for operators to ensure they are properly prepared for their journeys.

Skipper of the charter vessel Pelagic Kieren Boyle was recently sentenced in the Wellington District Court for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act, as the vessel he was skipper of ran out of fuel off the coast of Gisborne.

On 6 June 2022, Boyle took four customers and another crew member on a charter fishing trip for tuna. About seven hours, and 27 nautical miles off the coast of Gisborne, the vessel ran out of fuel.

Maritime NZ’s manager for General Regulatory Operations Central, Jarred McCarthy says that failing to ensure a vessel has enough fuel for a journey puts everyone on board at risk.

“If a vessel runs out of fuel offshore, that vessel and everyone on board will be at the mercy of the weather and conditions at sea unless or until they can be rescued.”

“This is not a risk worth taking. Weather at sea can often change quickly, and running out of fuel can increase the risk of capsize, passenger injury due to a lack of stability, and the vessel drifting causing those on board to run out of supplies,” he says.

On the vessel’s pre-voyage check, there is an instruction to check the fuel levels.

“This clearly didn’t take place adequately or properly before departure. People undertaking charter operations have a right to believe proper procedures are being followed before departing and during their expedition,” McCarthy says.

“This wasn’t the case on this trip.”

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