Shipping merchants to acquire provisional certificate for unseaworthy vessels

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (File photo)

Owners of vessels conducting commercial business in the waters surrounding Antigua and Barbuda, but who do not hold a certificate of registry, will be guided by a new process after the Lower House agreed to amend the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping Bill, Tuesday.

The change will make it possible for the registrar to grant a certificate of registry to a ship where the owner has qualified, or is in the process of qualifying to own an Antigua and Barbuda registered ship. 

According to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, operators will be granted provisional registration for a period of six months in the first instance “to remedy any defects” and a further six months after which the registrar will decide whether to grant a certificate of registry.

Browne said if the operators are “unable to satisfy the requirements, then the ship will be deemed not to be seaworthy and would not be able to operate.”

During the debate, opposition leader Baldwin Spencer and member for the All Saints East constituency, Joanne Massiah, challenged the bill on the grounds that it would allow ships that do not satisfy certain critical requirements to operate for 12 months before the ship’s problems are properly remedied. 

The prime minister however rebutted and pointed out that the amendment was only “legitimising a practice that has been taking place from time immemorial.”

He told his detractors that the change was to facilitate business, while at the same time not compromising on standards.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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