WELLINGTON, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Shipping companies must ensure they treat their crews according to international minimum standards when they visit New Zealand from next month, maritime authorities warned Friday.
New Zealand would begin enforcing the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to ensure fair treatment of seafarers, said Maritime New Zealand.
The convention, which sets minimum standards to address the health, safety and welfare of seafarers on commercial vessels, would come into force on March 9.
The convention would benefit local and foreign seafarers with improved safety and living standards, Maritime New Zealand director Keith Manch said in a statement.
"The advantage for New Zealand in ratifying the convention is we can inspect foreign flagged ships from any country to make sure they meet the MLC standards," said Manch.
New Zealand was among 81 member states that had adopted the convention.
It applied to everyone working on a ship and required that all crew had some form of health and safety training.
Under the convention, seafarers who needed hospitalisation or medical care while overseas on a ship were entitled to shore-based medical care at the owner's expense.
It also covered timely payment of wages and repatriation should someone fall ill or die while at work.
New Zealand had ratified the MLC last year in a move the government said would protect the reputation of New Zealand exports.
More than 99 percent of New Zealand's export goods by volume are transported on foreign ships.
The convention would apply to about 890 foreign commercial cargo and cruise ships visiting New Zealand annually, and approximately 30 New Zealand ships, according to government figures from March last year.