Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Act 2014

This Act was introduced on 25 December 2014 by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.  The Act has been introduced to revise the laws on the sale, transfer, mortgage, registration, national character, ownership and measurement of Irish ships in order to amend the Mercantile Marine Act of 1955 to amend certain enactments in this regard and provide for connected matters as per the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act 1952.

To date there has been no commencement of the Act as the new regime will not come into operation until the necessary regulations are finalised and the new Irish Register of Ships and registration system are established under a separate IT project.

The new Act has introduced many new provisions. These include the introduction of one central electronic Irish Register of Ships. Certain categories of ships have been added to the  mandatory registration including:

-Small fast powered craft and personal water craft

-Small angling boats carrying no more than 3 passengers

-Fishing boats less than 15m in length overall

The Act proposes a new register structure for different types of ships including:

-All new and existing commercial and passenger ships and recreational craft less than 24m in broadline length.

-Fishing boats

-Existing commercial and passenger ships less than 24m

-Personal water crafts, small fast powered craft and small angling boats

Different parts of the new Register are given different types of registration, e.g. Visitor Registration and Temporary Registration. Renewal of Registration will be made on a form to the Minister, who may grant or approve the application.

An application to the new proposed registry must be made by the owner/body corporate and/or his/her/its agent. The Act provides for the Minister to prescribe the procedures, information, declarations and documentation required for making the application including a requirement that the application must be made within a certain time period and accompanied by the relative form, manner and prescribed fee.

Under the new act the Minister shall refuse to register a ship if:

(i)The Ship does not have satisfactory safety certificates, pollution prevention certificates, adequate documentation or information, the person registering the ship is not a qualified person, the ship has failed to comply with the standards, the ship was previously registered outside the State and has no Certificate of Deletion from that State's Ship Register, there has been false declarations in connection with the registration of the ship, the ship is not carved and marked to the satisfaction of the Minister, any other circumstances deemed inappropriate by the Minister.

(ii)The Minister may remove a ship from the Register in the following circumstances, none compliance of safety, pollution, security standards and living and working standards under the Merchant Shipping Acts and Sea Pollution Act, non-compliance with the provision of Regulations under this Act, the ship is not required to be Registered, notification from the owner of a transfer of Registration outside the State, the Ship is transferred to a non-qualified person, lapse in ship's registration, the ship has been destroyed or recycled, lost or stolen, false declarations were made in connection with the ship renewal, the ship is no longer eligible to be registered, the ship is registered in another State, the ship is not carved and marked to the satisfaction of the Minister, non-compliance with the requirements of sub-section 1 and 3, any other circumstances which the Minister deems appropriate.

(iii)Further, in relation to sea fishing boats the Minister may remove such a Vessel in the following circumstances, a fishing boat licence was granted in respect of the boat has been revoked, suspended or ceased to have effect, the boat did not have a sea fishing boat licence but at the time of registration it should have and has not acquired such a licence within six months of the grant of a non-registration.

Under the new act there are certain penalties for a breach of the provisions of the which give rise to summary conviction to a Class A fine, i.e. a fine not exceeding €5,000.

The Act incorporates improvements to Enforcement Provisions such as increases in penalty levels, a power of detention given to surveyors for ship registration related offences, the introduction of a system of fixed payments (€150) for certain offences involving personal water craft, small soft powered craft and smaller angling ships, and the designation of a range of State personnel as authorised persons for enforcement purposes such as surveyors, members of an Garda Siochana, Officer of the Revenue Commissioners, Sea Fisheries Protection Officer, authorised officer of Inland Fisheries Ireland, person holding commissioned Naval rank in the Permanent Defence Forces and or an officer of the Irish Coast Guard.

Registration fees under the new act will be prescribed by the Minister depending on the types, classes or descriptions of ships together with different applications and renewals and different purposes and services.