Maritime reforms to come with new Merchant Shipping Bill

The government tabled legislation yesterday to modernize and improve the maritime sector. Minister of Transport and Housing JoBeth Coleby-Davis tabled the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2021 which lays out a new framework for the industry and repeals the Merchant Shipping Act, 1976 and Merchant Shipping (Maritime Claims Limitation of Liability) Act, 1989.

The lengthy legislation seeks to provide for the registration of Bahamian ships, the proprietary interests in ships, the training certification and watchkeeping relating to seafarers, the conditions of employment of seafarers and the health and well-being of masters and seafarers onboard a ship.

It also provides for the prevention of collisions, the safety of navigation, the prevention of pollution, maritime safety and security, the liability of owners of ships and investigations into marine casualties.

The bill also seeks to regulate and develop merchant shipping and related services and to incorporate international conventions into the laws of The Bahamas.

The bill lists 29 international conventions including the 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-Operation (OPRC)and the 2004 International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM).

“Since the enactment of the 1976 act and the 1989 act, merchant shipping and related services have seen numerous evolutions on international, regional and national levels to address concerns relating to safety, security, prevention of pollution and liability. The international community, in an attempt to address these concerns amended and developed key international instruments (codes and protocols) relating to merchant shipping,” the bill states.

“According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), shipping is a truly international industry and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis.”

In the Speech from the Throne read by Governor General C.A. Smith last month, the government pledged to introduce a merchant shipping bill to bring this jurisdiction in line with its international obligations, contemporary practices and to enhance The Bahamas’ competitive edge in the global maritime industry.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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