Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, May 23, 2022

'Rewrite laws' that no longer work for yachting industry- Andrew Ball

'Rewrite laws' that no longer work for yachting industry- Andrew Ball

Chairperson of the BVI Marine Association Mr Andrew Ball said while he understands the shock and scramble to get the local yachting industry regularised as it relates to the territory's laws and compliance, it was the loose enforcing of the laws that set a quantum regarding how the industry operated.

This comes following a crackdown by HM Customs on close to 200 vessels operating in the VI while not in compliance with the territory’s laws, including not having a valid license or safety certificate.

Appearing as a guest on the March 17, 2022, edition of the My BVI show, Mr Ball suggested that the approach was not ideal given the history of how the industry operated.

Appearing as a guest on the March 17, 2022, edition of the My BVI show, Ball suggested that the approach was not ideal given the history of how the industry operated.


Upgrading of local laws


"There's really two pieces of legislation here that are tripping us up, one if which is the requirements for the boats, so that the safety inspections hat everyone is talking about... and the other is our local Customs law, which is called the Commercial Recreational Vessels Licencing act," he added.

Ball said the latter act, is one that was written in 1992 with no substantial amendments for regulating the industry in today's world.

"What I gathered has happened, is that we've sort of slowly walked away from our enforcement of that law up until very recently... because the industry moved away and it didn't really work."

"There's a very simple solution to this problem and I think is to re-write the law, fix the law. There's nothing wrong with regulation, that's a good thing. We need to protect the BVI, we need to protect the industry, we need to protect our guests, we need to protect our reputation," he added.

Ball added that the laws can't be written in a vacuum, as such the Government needs to get everybody involved in the industry around the table.

All stakeholders must be involved - Mr Ball


"Much like the industry can't write this on their own, because we don't know what governments needs are, we don't know what their restrictions are, its the same of the other side," he said.

Mr Ball added that if the objectives of both sides are not fully understood, new laws won't be effective.

In mid-March 2022, close to 200 yachts operated by Moorings/Sun Sail and a number of smaller companies and private individuals were restricted from operating after they were found to be in breach of a number of compliance measures.

Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie during a press conference on the issue on March 18, 2022, said the Virgin Islands' agencies, namely Virgin Islands Shipping Registry and HM Customs, have been working for months with the operators and stakeholders in the Virgin Islands to ensure that the companies are compliant and to receive their commercial licences.


Gov't did not have flexibility in some areas- Premier Fahie


Meanwhile, Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) during a press conference on the issue on March 18, 2022, said the Virgin Islands' agencies, namely Virgin Islands Shipping Registry and HM Customs, have been working for months with the operators and stakeholders in the Virgin Islands to ensure that the companies are compliant and to receive their commercial licences.

He said where the licensing and compliance enforcement are concerned, there were some aspects that are within Government's discretion but there are also some areas where it does not have flexibility or discretion.

"And this is because adherence to the industry conventions is a matter of international law and our international obligations as well as required by the UK, of which we are a member of the Red Ensign Group."

Premier Fahie added that while some persons may want to say that the government is trying to damage the industry due to the relevant agencies doing their enforcement or by implementing certain requirements, "persons must be clear in understanding that we are following our obligations to enforce the conventions and our obligations to the UK and the other OTs as a member of the Red Ensign Group."

What is Red Ensign Group?


The Red Ensign Group is a collaboration of United Kingdom shipping registries including British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies. It takes its name from the Red Ensign ("Red Duster") flag flown by British civil merchant ships.

The Red Ensign Group's stated purpose is to combine resources to maintain safety and quality across the British fleet.

The Red Ensign Group's registers are divided into two categories:

Category 1 - register ships of unlimited tonnage and type. Category 1 Registers are Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man and United Kingdom.

Category 2 - register commercial ships and pleasure vessels of up to 150 gross tons (GT). This limit can be extended to 400GT with an agreement in place with the UK. Category 2 Registers are Anguilla, Falkland Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Montserrat, St Helena and Tucks & Caicos Islands.

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