Shipping |  Nov 03, 2021

Changes to the Existing Tonnage Regulations

In recent months, the Tonnage Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 234.19) underwent minor developments through the Tonnage (Amendment) Regulations (Legal Notice 165 of 2021), which primarily introduced new definitions for ‘Hull Length’ and ‘Length Overall’ (‘LOA’). This has significantly altered the way in which vessels and yachts are measured for the purpose of obtaining the applicable Tonnage Certificate. Supplementing the new amendments, Transport Malta also published comprehensive guidelines on the measurement of different types of yachts and vessels.

The LOA is still defined as the length from the foreside of the foremost fixed permanent structure to the after side of the aftermost fixed permanent structure. However, the exclusion of functional arrangements from the definition of fixed permanent structures is now not an absolute rule. Hull Length of a ship is now defined in accordance with the ‘harmonised standard’ under EU law. The relevant harmonised standards are currently established in EU Regulation 2017/1130 for fishing vessels and in ISO 8666 for other vessels.

Corresponding elements within the Tonnage Certificates were also modified. This includes the required information within a Certificate of Survey (Tonnage Measurement) for Maltese Ships under 24 Metres Length, other than Fishing Vessels with overall length equal or greater than 15m. As of the 1st of September 2021, one needs to include information on the type of ship in addition to its means of propulsion, the ship’s hull length, its Hull Identification Number or Craft Identification Number, the ship’s model and serial numbers as well as particulars of the propelling engine irrespective of it being fitted inboard or outboard. One other important change in respect of certification is that a fishing vessel of 15 metres length is not categorized within the same certification criteria as ships under 24 metres in length anymore, but will now require the same Tonnage Certificate as fishing vessels of more than 15 metres but under 24 metres length.

The amended regime will not apply retroactively to Malta flagged vessels and yachts already in possession of such Certificates before the amendments’ entry into force. Nonetheless, remeasurement in terms of the new measurement rules is required where a vessel or yacht undergoes modifications changing its dimension or type.

Merchant Shipping Notice 174 may be found here.

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Michael Grech | Partner | GVZH Advocates

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