Regardless of Argentina’s ban on ships flying the Falklands Flag from entering any of its ports, a move supported by the regional group Mercosur, life goes on for the Red Ensign group which met recently for a conference hosted by the Isle of Man.
The Red Ensign Group operates the shipping registers for the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) and the UK Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and the Turks & Caicos Islands). Any vessel registered in the UK, a Crown Dependency or UK Overseas Territory, is a “British ship” and is entitled to fly the Red Ensign flag.
The Falkland Islands has operated its own Red Ensign register since 1861.
Before the conference, the Falklands’ Register was restricted to merchant vessels not exceeding a gross tonnage of 150, fishing vessels and small ships whose owners or charterers have a connection with the Falkland Islands.
This year’s conference brought together thirteen crown dependencies and UK overseas territories entitled to register vessels under the British flag including delegates from the Falkland Islands. Representatives from the UK’s Department for Transport, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency were also present.
60 delegates discussed safety, legislation, regulation, technical compliance and constitutional matters common to the various territories. Lawyers, surveyors and those associated with the maritime world were invited to networking events within the framework of the conference.
Key points agreed at the conference included:
Endorsement of a new categorization order so that smaller registries will be able to take on all ship types up to 400 gross tons and not only pleasure craft. This will replace the present limit of 150 gross tons for commercial ships.
Confirmation that the new ‘large yacht code’ is to be published and launched at the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show in September. The code provides essential certification for large commercial yachts and has now been updated and recognized as a Red Ensign standard;
An agreement in principle for a new streamlined process for maritime conventions, which will speed up ratification for Red Ensign jurisdictions without compromising quality;
A reminder to British Consuls overseas of their duty to support the interests of British, and not just UK shipping, worldwide.