The Maritime Union says problems with quarantine for sick crew members aboard the Viking Bay show processes need to be tightened up.
The Viking Bay has COVID-19 positive crew members on board off Taranaki, but Port Taranaki refused permission for the vessel to return port.
Local political figures also backed the decision.
The fishing vessel has now been given permission for quarantine anchorage offshore in Auckland harbour by Ports of Auckland.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the situation could easily occur again.
He says the situation is not so straightforward as to simply deny ships access to ports.
“New Zealand has obligations under international maritime agreements and basic humanity to assist vessels and crews who are in distress.”
Mr Harrison says that crews are coming into New Zealand on international vessels all the time, and New Zealand had a responsibility to ensure their welfare.
“If it was not for seafarers, New Zealand would not be getting very many imports or exports. They should not be put in danger.”
He says that the key here was a better protocol and process around how to deal with this situation.
He says the Ministry of Health, ports and maritime authorities need to be communicating.
Mr Harrison says the Maritime Union has been in contact about the Viking Bay with the International Transport Workers Federation, the global union federation which represents fishermen around the world.
He says ITF inspectors have spoken to the owners, who are in contact with the vessel.
The COVID-19 positive crew members were self-isolating on board and did not have symptoms.
Mr Harrison says the Maritime Union and ITF would continue to check on the welfare of the crew and would advocate for them if required.