At the start of 2017 Transport Malta, the authority responsible for the administration of the Malta flag, introduced new guidelines that allow more than 12 persons on board privately registered yachts.
Since their launch, these guidelines have been welcomed by the industry, not least since they represent the consolidation of a flexible approach towards authorisation for the carriage of additional guests on board and a departure from the previously strict requirement for yachts to be built in accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea or the Passenger Yacht Code and registered with a red ensign flag.
These guidelines apply to yachts both above and below 500 gross tonnes and will be applied on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the authority. Further, pleasure yachts falling within the ambit of the guidelines will be prohibited from navigating more than 150 miles from a safe haven while carrying more than 12 persons.
Yachts falling under the guidelines must:
- hold a valid class certificate (a requirement applicable for yachts over 500 gross tonnes);
- comply with the requirements of the Commercial Yacht Code;
- possess an approved stability booklet, which covers the loading conditions relative to the total number of persons being requested on board;
- install and carry the appropriate safety equipment, depending on the expected number of persons on board;
- have a 100% life raft capacity;
- carry a compliment crew in line with the Commercial Yacht Code;
- have been issued a safety radio statement of compliance (applicable to yachts over 300 gross tonnes) or a safety radio certificate (for yachts over 500 gross tonnes); and
- comply with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships requirements, as detailed in the Commercial Yacht Code.
The guidelines also require an intermediate survey to be effected every two-and-a-half-years, starting from the date on which the vessel is allowed to carry more than 12 persons. The aim of this survey is to verify the continued compliance with the minimum requirements.
The Malta flag has increasingly garnered a solid reputation as being one of the leading European flags and is favoured by owners, financiers and operators of private and commercial yachts. Speaking at the Fifth Opportunities in Superyachts Conference organised in Malta on the February 23 2017, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Joe Mizzi noted a record increase of over 14% in the registration of superyachts over 24 metres under the Malta flag over the past year. He attributed this success to the high level of service offered by both the public and private sectors and the "various initiatives and strategies in favour of the industry offering a holistic package".
The new guidelines stem both from a recognition by the Maltese administration that there is a gap in the superyacht market and the administration's continued effort to remain at the forefront as a leading yachting flag, which is conscious of the need to meet the industry's frequently changing requirements while maintaining the highest possible technical standards.
For further information on this topic please contact Alison Vassallo at Fenech & Fenech Advocates by telephone (+356 2124 1232) or email ([email protected]).The Fenech & Fenech website can be accessed at www.fenechlaw.com.