New Zealand introduces bill to secure maritime domain

A bill was introduced to the New Zealand parliament on Wednesday, aiming to prevent serious criminal offending at sea, including transnational offending and organized crime.

“New Zealand will be better placed to keep our maritime environment secure against threats like drugs trafficking, wildlife trafficking and human trafficking with the Maritime Powers Bill passed into law,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.

This bill enhances the ability to enforce New Zealand’s criminal law in international waters, Mahuta said, adding, “It brings a consistency to our domestic arrangements which is currently lacking.”

The Maritime Powers Bill will give power to police, the New Zealand defense force, customs and the conservation department to stop, board, search and detain a ship in international waters, including New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that serious criminal offending is taking place on board, according to the draft.

“This legislation responds to the increasingly dynamic and complex maritime security environment that New Zealand faces by establishing a comprehensive regime for the exercise of law enforcement powers in the oceans and seas beyond New Zealand territory,” Mahuta said.

The bill will go through a normal select committee process and is expected to come into force by the end of the year, she added.