Maritime Compliance: New Zealand Noise Vessel Specification


( All container vessels visiting a New Zealand port will be required to provide a Noise Label Score according to the Environmental Ship Index (ESI), following the NEPTUNES protocol, or confirm that a reactive silencer is fitted to one of ancillary engines used while at berth. If either of these requirements is not met, then from 1 June 2024 the vessel will be refused entry to any New Zealand port.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: On 2024-05-28 New Zealand’s ports informed that the NZ Ship Noise Specification won’t be implemented as planned on 1st June. The ports are reconsidering the implementation phase and there is no timeline for that process. Regardless, Ports of Auckland have decided to keep monitoring all container vessels that are new to New Zealand ports to maintain a database, meaning to continue the interim phase on behalf in the meantime. In this period vessels are asked to provide a certified NEPTUNEs Noise Label Score or confirm that a reactive silencer is fitted to one of the auxiliary engines used while at berth. If neither are available, then a noise label score will be derived for that vessel using a simplified measurement procedure. This monitoring can be undertaken at a convenient time at one of the vessel’s NZ port calls, ideally on its first visit.

According to the New Zealand ports, the low-frequency “rumble” from container vessel auxiliary generators is the major source of community noise complaints at NZ ports. In response to this, New Zealand ports collectively adopted the NZ Noise Specification in December 2022, designed to manage the impacts of low-frequency vessel noise on port communities by ensuring quieter vessels are utilized on NZ services. The noise specification will come into force for all container vessels calling at any NZ port from 1 June 2024.

Not only in NZ, complaints about noise from oceangoing vessels at berth are becoming increasingly an issue. Besides that, many cruise terminals are located near historic city centres and residential areas are located close to industrial ports. As a consequence of the complaints, several ports initiated a project called NEPTUNES, which led to the implementation of a specific noise index within the framework of the environmental incentive system Environmental Ship Index (ESI) by the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).

Vessels that have carried out corresponding noise measurements can collect ESI-noise points. In addition to previous environmental incentives, particularly quiet ships are granted a further discount on the port fee. To get the ESI-noise points, a noise measurement report needs to be submitted to ESI. The measurements need to be conducted by a noise measurement bureau accepted by ESI (usually a Classification Society).



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