Parliament has introduced a bill that gives agencies powers to stop any suspected serious criminal offending on ships in international waters.
The Maritime Powers Bill will give police, the Defence Force, Customs and the Department of Conservation legal authority to stop, board, search and detain a ship in international waters if they suspect that serious criminal offending is taking place on board.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the bill would bring consistency to domestic arrangements of enforcing law and order.
"This legislation responds to the increasingly dynamic and complex maritime security environment that New Zealand faces by establishing a comprehensive regime for the exercise of law enforcement powers in the oceans and seas beyond New Zealand territory."
Mahuta said although New Zealand was an isolated island nation, it still faced risks of crime at sea.
"A secure maritime environment is critical to our national security and prosperity, especially given our ever-increasing dependence on the sea for trade," she said.
"The powers in the Bill are consistent with existing powers under New Zealand law, including the Bill of Rights Act and with New Zealand's rights and obligations at international law."
Agencies will be able to enforce their new powers if a suspected offender or evidence of criminal offending appears on a vessel in international waters, regardless of whether it is New Zealand-flagged or otherwise.
For offences on board a New Zealand-flagged vessel, the law will be applicable anywhere in international waters, but for offences on board a foreign-flagged or stateless vessel, it will be applicable places for which New Zealand has extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The bill will go through a Select Committee process and is expected to come into force by the end of the year.