JIS News

The international shipping industry is very lucrative, providing revenues for many countries, including Jamaica.
With this in mind, the Government is ensuring that the country has full access to all the benefits that can be derived from the sector.
Through the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ), the country is promoting its international shipping registry, which allows foreign owned vessels to register under the Jamaican flag for a fee.
This registration of internationally owned vessels comes under the Jamaica Ship Register (JSR), which was officially launched in 2000, and represents documentation of all ships registered with Jamaica.
Eric Deans, Director of Shipping and Policy Research at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica informs JIS News that the concept of registration is the process of granting title and nationality to a ship.
“A ship operates in an international environment, so it has to come under some law, some jurisdiction. When you’re outside the territorial waters of all countries, meaning you’re in international waters now, if there’s a incident that take place on board, it has to come under some law in order to operate and that is the law of the flag where the vessel is registered,” he adds.
Currently, there are approximately 45 vessels registered under the Jamaican flag. Mr. Deans notes that this number may seem small, but it’s because the MAJ focuses on quality, so substandard ships are not allowed to register with the JSR. He says Jamaica has rejected over five hundred ships that had wanted to register with the JSR, because they were of inferior quality.
“When we started, we focused on a platform of quality and there were a lot of substandard ships which were trying to get into our registry, so we ended up rejecting a lot of ships. We are not going so much after numbers, but we want to protect the reputation of Jamaica. Some other flags have very bad reputations, all the substandard ships causing collisions, casualties are to be found in their flag.
What we’re trying to do is to ensure that Jamaica operates a quality registry and we protect the interests of both the crew and other users of the sea,” Mr. Deans tells JIS News.
Jamaica operates an open registry, which means that vessels from anywhere in the world can register under the Jamaican flag. This is in contrast to a closed registry, an example of which is the United States of America, where only US owned vessels can operate under that country’s flag.
Mr. Deans notes that although there is intense competition among the open registries of the world, it is still profitable for Jamaica to remain in the competition, as ships are continuously changing owners.
“They’re approximately 40,000 ships in the world, and there are about 4,000 being built each year. There are new ships, and ships are changing hands, so it’s not just the existing ships, but there are new ships coming on and there are ships that are changing hands, which is when typically, a ship is registered under a new flag,” says Mr. Deans.
The main benefits of registering under the Jamaican flag are numerous and are related to tax breaks, as Jamaican registered ships are only required to pay a one time registration fee and an annual fee, called a tonnage fee.
Another benefit is that ship owners are allowed to use crews of other nationalities, so they do not have to use Jamaican crew, while if they are registered with a closed registry, such as the US, they would have to use American crew members, who may be more expensive.
“Another advantage we have over some other registry, like the largest in Panama, is that in registering with Panama, all the documentation has to be in Spanish. We are an English speaking country, so all our documentation is in English. Our laws come under the English common-law system, which has a long history and is recognized in the maritime world.it’s the primary law that is used in maritime affairs,” Mr. Deans explains.
“We have double taxation agreements with many countries, so the benefits they get of no taxes in Jamaica is transferred back to their homelands, whether they’re US owned, or British owned or from Japan or Germany,” Mr. Deans adds.
Registration ensures that the details of the vessel, such as ownership and country of origin are recorded, and upon registration, the owner is given a registration certificate. This certificate acts as a title and the ship is now considered a Jamaican vessel.
“What we do in registering is get information about the owner and the vessel, the particulars about the vessel and trace its ownership to make sure it was not stolen. We also record mortgages on a vessel.if the ship is secured through a mortgage, the bank can register that mortgage with us. The crew on board, their certificates have to be endorsed by our administration to make sure that whatever training they got is up to the international standards required for any position that they serve in,” says Mr. DeansThe Maritime Authority takes care of ships that operate in Jamaica’s maritime waters. It is also responsible for the welfare of seafarers and the protection of the marine environment, ensuring that ships and other users of the sea do not pollute the marine environment.
“We also play a role in developing shipping, in other words encouraging maritime business to expand and operate in Jamaica,” says Mr. Deans.

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