New Zealand launches first Section 21 prosecution

The New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority was successfully prosecuted a foreign yachtsman for breaching Section 21, the widely reviled safety regulations introduced in 1995.

William Sellers set sail for Noumea in April 1995 without clearing customs. On his return later that year, he was charged with wilfully breaching the Act.

Under Section 21, foreign yachts leaving New Zealand were subject to a safety inspection and had to carry EPRIBs and liferafts, among other equipment. Sellers refused to submit to the inspection.

In court he said he was no adverse to carrying safety equipment listed under Section 21, although he questioned the usefulness of some of the required gear. New Zealand’s insistence on foreign yachts meeting its own safety standards was, he said, in conflict with international law.

Sellers’ stance cut little ice with the judge, who convicted him and remanded him for sentencing. He was fined around £2,300 although the vocal NZ anti-Section 21 lobby met most of the sum.

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