The Green Party is calling on the Government to investigate Filipino seafarer training in light of serious concerns raised by the European Commission.
The European Commission has threatened to ban Filipino workers from European Union registered ships, following a report by the European Maritime Safety Agency which raised concerns about the level and quality of training for Filipino seafarers.
The captain and second officer of the Rena, which is currently stranded off the coast of Tauranga, are both Filipino, and are charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk, under the Maritime Transport Act.
The stricken ship has been grounded since October 5 and has spilled 350 tonnes of oil and 88 containers into the sea.
Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said he hopes the Government will consider greater scrutiny and regulation over shipping vessels.
"Given the tragic consequences that can occur when things go wrong at sea, it is of the utmost importance that our Government ensures that all vessels entering New Zealand waters are crewed by well-trained individuals," Norman said.
"The Greens back the adoption of higher standards for coastal shipping that support the use of local crews and ships that know New Zealand waters and hazards," said Norman.
The European Commission reportedly notified the Philippine Government in May that the Commission would withdraw recognition of Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates issued by the Philippines, unless the Philippines addressed deficiencies in the country's maritime education, training and certification system.
"The issue is not that the workers are Filipino, but that there are problems with their training, Norman said.
"Unfortunately, Filipino seafarers have become fodder in the global race to the bottom to produce and transport goods as cheaply as possible, and could be missing out on the proper training they need and deserve."
The International Seafarers Action Centre (ISAC) Philippines Foundation has hit back saying many incidents involving substandard vessels flying Flags of Convenience tragically led not only to massive oil spills but to the loss of human lives and it "is regardless of the colour of the skin, or of the racial origins of the officers and men crewing these vessels".
It said for the past 36 months, 50% of inspection for deficiencies resulted in the detention of the vessel and on July 21 the Rena was inspected and detained in Fremantle, Australia for 17 deficiencies.
ISAC said there have been racist attacks on Filipino migrants in New Zealand following the Rena incident.
"The trauma, fear and physical sufferings of the mostly Filipino crew on board, who were made to stay on board the tilting ship for six days without rescue, highlights the human and environmental damage that this incident has caused."
"This incident reveals the half a century old problem of substandard shipping and the use of Flags of Convenience by unscrupulous ship-owners to reduce cost and to amass more profit."
ISAC said the Rena is an old and substandard vessel that was built in 1990.