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Freight

Maritime Union: Reduce ports, reduce virus risk

A logging ship at Napier port on Sunday. Health officials say the crew of an unnamed ship, travelling from Taranaki to Napier, will be isolated as close contacts of the new community case.

Georgia-May Gilbertson/Stuff

A logging ship at Napier port on Sunday. Health officials say the crew of an unnamed ship, travelling from Taranaki to Napier, will be isolated as close contacts of the new community case.

The Maritime Union says a port worker’s positive test for Covid-19 has highlighted the need to limit the number of international ports in New Zealand.

A port worker who tested positive for the virus on Saturday is being treated as the country’s latest case of community transmission.

The man worked on a ship and stayed at a hotel in New Plymouth this week.

Union national secretary Joe Fleetwood says there should be two import ports in the North Island and two in the South, which would reduce the risk of international ships carrying domestic freight around the entire country.

READ MORE:
* Positive Covid-19 case worked at Port Taranaki and stayed in New Plymouth
* Here’s why we need only NZ-flagged ships travelling around our coasts
* Concerns international seafarers came to shore for medical treatment without being tested for Covid-19

“Right now nearly all of our domestic sea freight is carried by international ships running international crews who are not covered by New Zealand law.

”It means that every single one of our ports is an international border point and it puts our members and the public at risk.’’

RNZ

The Ministry of Health has ordered everyone who works at the Auckland and Tauranga ports to be tested for Covid-19.

Fleetwood said other countries ran a small number of international ports as hubs for their protected domestic sea freight. This gave them greater control of their border security and of their supply chains.

“There’s a reason our international airports are limited to large sites that can resource strong border security, we should be doing the same with our ports.”

Under the ‘’hub and spoke’’ model, all other cargo outside the hubs would be shifted by New Zealand flagged vessels.

Other benefits included lower carbon emissions and road congestion, and stronger regional supply chains, Fleetwood said.

”This kind of arrangement is standard for many of our trading partners and is how we used to do things before the deregulation of the industry in the 1990’s.”

“We’ve been talking to the Government about this for a while and both Labour and the Greens have repeatedly backed the need to strengthen New Zealand flagged coastal shipping. It’s time to accelerate that change.”

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