The Cook Islands is active within the Pacific Community (SPC) and also participates in other regional initiatives such as the Asia Pacific Heads of Maritime Safety Agencies (APHOMSA)
The Cook Islands has a modern suite of Maritime Legislation which is comprised of primary legislation (Acts) and subordinate legislation (Regulations and Rules). Key documents are provided here.
Please note that the Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII) also provides links to legislation for Pacific Island states. The PacLII website notes that users of the site should be aware the PacLII databases may not be complete.
There are a number of major pieces of legislation that are related to the administration of maritime matters:
- Ports Authority Act 1994-95
- Prevention of Marine Pollution Act 1998
- Admiralty Act 2004
- Ship Registration Act 2007
- Maritime Transport Act 2008
Maritime Transport Act (MTA)
A key Act for maritime is the Maritime Transport Act. This Act requires general compliance and prescribes offences for failure in relation to general compliance, but also is prescriptive in the sense that it permits the making of rules to incorporate convention obligations, which if not complied with is an offence under regulations empowered by the Act. A prosecution for non-compliance is instigated by the Secretary of Transport.
Ship Registration Act
The Cook Islands operates an open register for ships and yachts through a delegation between the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Cook Islands. The key Act for shipping registration is the Ship Registration Act. This Act permits the registration of ships and requires compliance with the law and standards (including rules made under the MTA). The Registrar has a wide discretion through directives and notices to require compliance and can impose infringement penalties for deficiencies (Shipping (Infringement deficiency) Regulations 2014). The Registrar imposes infringement of fines.
Regulations are subordinate legislation that can be made under the Acts. There are a number of regulations related to the administration of maritime matters: