The Merchant Shipping (International Conventions) Bill (the "Bill") is currently at the stage of initial consultation on the proposal.
The purpose of the Bill when implemented is to provide for the national implementation of certain International Maritime Conventions, the updating of existing statutes in respect of Conventions that Ireland is a party to and the supply of maritime safety measures. The ultimate objective is stated to be the enhancement of the legal framework in relation to protection of the marine environment and safety of life and property at sea.
Update of existing statutes in respect of Conventions that Ireland is a party of:
Ireland is already a party to numerous conventions listed below and the Bill provides for the legislation implementing these conventions to be updated to take account additional protocols and subsequent amendments at convention level.
- Convention for the Suppressions of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, Protocol for the Suppressions of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf 1988 and related 2005 Protocol (as amended);
- Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs);
- International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea Convention 1974 (SOLAS) (as amended);
- International Convention on Load Lines 1966 and Protocol to same of 1988 (as amended);
- International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers 1978 (STCW);
- International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships 1969;
- Maritime Labour Convention 2007;
- Merchant Shipping Act 1992;
- Maritime Safety Act 2005.
The Bill will supply a framework to allow Ireland to become a party to the following further conventions:
- Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol of 1993 Relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977;
- Hong KongInternational Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009;
- International Convention and Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS) 1996 (as amended);
- Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks;
- International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel 1995 (STCW-F);
- Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised) 2003
- Work in Fishing Convention 2007.
The proposed bill proposes some minor amendments to current Irish maritime legislation including:
- Merchant Shipping Act 1992 (No. 2 of 1992) – amendment to the wording in section 13(1) re passenger ships requiring insurance “… against any sum” to set a practical amount;
- Maritime Safety Act 2005 (No. 11 of 2005) – extend powers of direction in section 38 in relation to moving vessels in the interest of maritime safety to members of An Garda Síochána.
Benefits to Proposed New Bill
- Ireland being listed on the Paris MOU’s “2015 White List” of low risk Flag States is critical for Irish flagged vessels trading internationally. Ireland must therefore have a regulatory regime which is consistent with international high standards.
- Irish vessels will have to comply with further safety measures which will benefit Irish sea-farers due to improved vessel safety.
- The improvement to Irish vessels will have a positive knock on effect to Irish waters and the protection of the marine environment.
- Ireland’s national competitiveness should grow on the back of introduction to this new Bill as it will improve and maintain the safety standards of Irish vessels and crew allowing for future growth on the world stage.
- High safety standards introduced by the Bill will not directly impact Consumers but will provide assurance. Standard precedents are in place across all types of vessels including but not limited to, fishing, passenger and cargo vessels.
- The International Labour Organisation (ILO) implementation of the Work in Shipping Convention together with the Bill will allow for improved living and working conditions while on board fishing vessels.
- The suggested legislation has been drafted to enhance existing policies and so there should be no policy change of consequence, yet there will be a constructive effect on the maritime industry in Ireland.