Barbados is well under way to raising the profile of its maritime sector as Government works to implement new measures and legislation to meet international standards.
This follows an audit by the International Maritime Organization in 2019, which highlighted 23 areas of concern surrounding Barbados’ maritime sector, particularly in the area of legislation.
Among the initiatives undertaken to increase efficiency in the sector is the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) Bill, which is expected to be finalised by month-end.
This was disclosed on Friday by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, during an awards ceremony for outstanding students of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, and staff at the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI), as part of Maritime Day 2021 celebrations.
Once passed, the new legislation will allow ships coming into Barbados’ Port to enter their information and have it sent to the Joint Regional Communications Centre, Customs, Immigration and the BPI simultaneously, rather than individually, as presently exists.
In addition, the Port has begun transacting more business online and conducting joint inspections with Customs, Immigration and Port Health, to speed up the processes.
Mr. Humphrey explained that this was important to achieve the BPI’s vision of becoming the world’s leading green maritime hub by 2030, as the least time a ship spends in port, means less damage to its environment.
The Minister pointed out that significant work was done to improve the legislative architecture of the sector, with five pieces of legislation being taken to Cabinet over the last two years. That legislation is presently before the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC). Also, the Domestic Shipping legislation was separated from the International Shipping legislation.
Mr. Humphrey explained that the Domestic Shipping legislation was approved by Cabinet and was presently before the CPC to become law. That, he said, addresses ships that are below 150 tonnes, such as yachts, and includes jet skis and wave runners.
Meanwhile, the Merchant Shipping legislation would address ships over 150 tonnes, which is international. This legislation, he said, was expected to go to Cabinet within the next two weeks, and seeks to reposition Barbados as a serious maritime destination.
The Seafarers’ legislation was also developed to offer the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers in Barbados, and have it certified to allow more young people to be trained locally. Mr. Humphrey said the Ministry was presently in the process of finalising training for the programme to give young people the opportunity to work on ships.
“A number of ships have come onboard and [are] just waiting for us to finalise the training. That paper should be before Cabinet soon, but we need the Seafarers’ legislation to be put in place,” he said.
Furthermore, work is also being done on the Ship Registry, which has the potential to generate significant revenue for Barbados.
The Minister disclosed that by early next month a request for proposal would be issued to allow persons to manage the Ship Registry. “What we are offering now will make the registry a lot more attractive,” Mr. Humphrey added.