Shipping Industry Current Affairs
The World Maritime Day (WMD) is observed every year on September 28 to highlight importance of shipping safety, maritime security and marine environment and to acknowledge maritime industry.
The 2017 theme of the day is ‘Connecting Ships, Ports and People’. It was chosen to provide an opportunity to focus on many diverse actors involved in shipping and logistics industry. It aims to focus on helping International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states to develop and implement maritime strategies to invest in a joined-up, interagency approach that addresses whole range of issues, including facilitation of maritime transport, increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of marine environment, and maritime security.
The World Maritime Day marks date of adaptation of International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention in 1958. The day was first observed in 1978. The IMO’s original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) but it was changed to IMO in 1982.
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
IMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. It was established in 1948 in Geneva as ICMO and came into force in 1959. Its headquarters are in London, United Kingdom.
IMO has 171 member states and 3 associate members. India was one of the earliest members of the IMO and had joined it as a member-state in 1959. Its functions are to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit. This framework addresses various areas like safety, legal matters, environmental concerns, technical co-operation, maritime security and efficiency of shipping.
The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.
The bill is a revamped version of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. It seeks to repeal Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 as well the Coasting Vessels Act, 1838.
Key Features of Bill
- Allows substantially-owned vessels and vessels on Bare Boat-cum-Demise (BBCD) to be registered as Indian flag vessels.
- Recognises Indian controlled tonnage as a separate category. Makes separate rules for coastal vessels to develop and promote coastal shipping.
- Dispenses with the requirement for issuing of licences to Indian flag vessels for coastal operation and for port clearance by the Customs authorities
- Seafarers held in hostage captivity of pirates will receive wages till they are released and reach home back safely.
- Mandatory for vessels owners to compulsorily take insurance of crew engaged on vessels including fishing, sailing and whose net tonnage is less than 15.
- The crew members now don’t need to sign of articles of agreement before the Shipping Master.
- Incorporates all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Conventions/Protocols in Indian laws up-to-date by inserting provisions relating to 7 different conventions.
- These 7 different conventions are Intervention Convention 1969, Search and Rescue Convention 1979, Protocol for Prevention of Pollution from Ships, Convention for Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments 2004, Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention 2007, Salvage Convention 1989 and International Convention for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001.
- Besides, the provisions for survey, inspection and certification of vessels are placed together in Bill to provide simplified regime for convenience of Indian shipping industry.
Why the bill repeals old laws?
- As a result of various amendments carried out in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 from time to time, it had become a bulky piece of legislation over the years.
- It was amended 17 times between 1966 and 2014 which had resulted in increase in the number of sections to more than 560 sections.
- The new bill has provisions which have been meticulously shortened to 280 sections. It also simplifies the law governing the merchant shipping in India.
- Further, certain redundant provisions have been removed and remaining provisions have been consolidated and simplified to promote ease of doing business, transparency and effective delivery of services.
- The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838 was also an archaic legislation of the British era. It provided limited jurisdiction for registration of non-mechanically propelled vessels to Saurashtra and Kutch. The proposed bill allows registration of all vessels for the whole of India.