BVI News

Merchant Shipping Act getting 21 changes | Includes drunk seafarer policy, mandatory insurance

Underscoring the importance of the maritime sector to the British Virgin Islands, Premier Andrew Fahie said 21 changes are being made to the territory’s existing Merchant Shipping Act of 2001.

Of the 21 proposed amendments, the Premier said new changes would include extending duties to professional seafarers — both on and off-duty — who may be called upon to act in emergency situations.

While on duty, boat captains would be required to have a prescribed (unspecified) alcohol limit as it relates to alcohol consumption, Fahie explained.

The law will also be amended to give a police officer the right to enter a ship/vessel or any other place where a drunk seafarer might be located.

“Clause 16 [of the amendmends would provide regulation to be made with respect to compulsory insurance and security,” Premier Fahie explained while speaking in the House of Assembly recently.

He further said a new section will be added to the existing law and will address the implementation of “counter pollution and environmental conventions” for the sector.

Adopting international maritime laws

Addressing last Thursday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, Premier Fahie said some of the changes reflect what is known as the International Maritime Organization’s ‘Triple I Code’. These are international maritime laws that govern the sector and that should effectively be adopted by governments globally.

According to Premier Fahie, his government’s proposed amendments to the territory’s Merchant Shipping Act will come in two phases. 

“Phase one is essential for Triple I Code being done immediately, and in phase two — the liability conventions that are not Triple I Code-related — is being done later,” the Premier said.

Legislation important 

In the meantime, the Premier said the amendments are critical to the local sector.

“It is a fundamental piece of legislation that governs our maritime sector which is the cornerstone our territory’s tourism, fishing and financial services economy. Its passage is critical to the preservation of our category-one status as a member of the UK’s Red Ensign Group — the premier registry of the maritime vessels in the world,” Fahie said.

He further said the proposed amendments support the government’s plan to revitalize the territory’s marine sector and to confirm the BVI as a sailing and maritime capital of the region.

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  1. Yep says:

    What about the captain of the WT

    Like 1
    Dislike 4
  2. Windy says:

    A ENFORCED! speed limit in Sopers Hole would be nice. 5 mph ! NO WAKE ZONE. Ferry boats included

    Like 17
  3. Bald says:

    I think they need to look about bringing in compulsory qualifications for all captains including bareboats. One of the largest charter firms here still allows bareboaters with zero qualifications and with zero experience. Name another country in the world that allows that.

    Like 13
  4. nick says:

    what about doing alcohol test for car drivers?

    Like 12
  5. huh says:

    good luck with that

  6. Retired says:

    How about adding some clauses that allow the RBVI marine police to issue tickets for all the various offenses in the current MSA’01. These clauses would supersede the current slow old fashioned summons procedure to Magistrate’s Court for speeders and other offenders.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  7. Agreed says:

    The ferries come in too fast, and cut the corner (avoiding the channel markers) when leaving for Road Town. Fast speed boats, that leave very little wake, come in at 30 plus knots and don’t slow down until they are past the ferry dock.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  8. Jane says:

    Boaters who moor their vessels in a no-swim zone should have their vessel seized. This would bring an immediate end to this recurring problem.

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  9. Also retired says:

    How about increasing the fines/punishment for the vessel offences in the MSA’01. For example any offence for speeding should have the following penalties:

    1. Owner fined $10,000 for each speeding offence and
    2. Operator at the time of the speeding offence sentenced to 1 year in jail at Balsam’s Ghut and
    3. Owner forfeits all the propulsion engines and trailer to the Crown and
    4. The offending vessel is impounded by the Marine Police for 1 year and stored in a commercial boatyard on Tortola at the owner’s expense.

    This type of penalty should deter speeding offences.

    • Realistic says:

      We need better enforcement. But unrealistic fines are not going to work. Make this more like a driving ticket. Charge a man $350, that will sting, that will make him pay attention. Don’t put him out of business or make it so he can not work for one offense. If he gets multiple violations that is another thing.

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