Some of the projected changes are aimed at making the Canary Islands Special Register of Vessels and Shipping Companies more competitive, removing the minimum amount for arresting vessels or the regulations of unmanned ships.

The two main Spanish shipping and ports laws (Maritime Shipping Law 14/2014 -LNM- and Legislative Royal Decree 2/2011 approving the Revised State Ports and Merchant Shipping Law -TRLPEMM-) are currently undergoing an amendment process. The government gave out information a few months ago on where it intends to amend the rules, and has now launched a formal consultation period on a Preliminary Bill for Amendment of both laws for interested parties to submit their comments.

It is conspicuous that the preliminary bill should only address changes concerning shipping and the changes concerning ports should be postponed indefinitely, for the reason that, besides this delaying the whole process, unlike the amendment of the Maritime Shipping Law, the amendment of the Revised Ports and Merchant Shipping Law could in some way be imposed by Regulation (EU) No 352/2017 on the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports which, among other changes, treats bunkering as a port service not as a commercial service which is how it currently appears.

Focusing on that preliminary bill, although other changes might be introduced before it comes into force, the main new changes needing to be noted are:

  • The following measures are adopted to make the Canary Islands Special Register of Vessels and Shipping Companies (REBECA) more competitive:
    • Clarifying that the mandatory 50% of seafarers who must be nationals of the EU or EEA must be calculated by reference to the minimum safe manning, not the ship's manning crew;
    • Making it easier to employ private security staff on board vessels operating in high risk areas for piracy; and
    • Allowing the registration of recreational craft and vessels if they are over 15 meters in length and are engaged in trade activities or activities for profit.
  • Removing the minimum amount required (15%) for arresting vessels.
  • Treating the claims of ship suppliers and repairers as maritime liens.
  • Allowing guarantees to be required to secure the receipt of payments for mandatory exchanges of passenger tickets during the Gibraltar Strait Operation, a plan to organize the flow of traffic between Spain and Morocco over the summer months.
  • Creating a new notarial certification procedure in relation to the abandonment of recreational craft.
  • Providing a definition of unmanned ship, although subject to international approval.
  • Clarifying the details of direct action against P&I Clubs.
  • Amending and updating the penalty rules in relation to maritime shipping and port matters.
  • Updating and recasting the provisions on merchant shipping fees.
  • Strengthening application of Spanish law and the Spanish jurisdiction.