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BVI Launches Upgraded Shipping Registry

by Amanda Banks,, London

06 October 2006

BVI's Chief Minister Dr Orlando Smith has welcomed last month's re-launch of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), fulfilling the conditions for Category One membership of the UK's Red Ensign registry group, enabling the registration of larger vessels.

The BVI has developed a very strong business in yachts, to the exclusion of most other types of shipping. Large numbers of private yachts are registered in the BVI, and many of them take part in the highly successful yacht chartering business which forms a major part of the BVI's appeal to visitors.

“Even today many of our people are involved in the ferry industry, charter yacht sector, power boating, and the delivery of cargo. The shipping registry will be instrumental in promoting safety at sea and controlling and preventing marine pollution,” the Chief Minister said.

The new Virgin Islands Shipping Registry was created through a merger of the Shipping Registry Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission and the Marine Unit of the Ministry of Communications and Works.

In December 2004 the Financial Services Commission’s shipping registry director, Capt. Baboucar Sallah, explained that the move would entail some radical changes to the way the BVI’s shipping registry operates.

“It means that the Shipping Registry and, especially, overall maritime administration in the BVI must be so developed that we will have the capacity to ensure the safety and environmental fitness of vessels on our register,” he commented.

In essence, the upgrade from BVI’s current status as a Category Two registry will mean the implementation of and strict compliance with international maritime conventions dealing with ship safety, the health and welfare of seafarers, environmental protection and international and domestic maritime security. However, Sallah believes that these obligations will be compensated for through spin-off benefits to both the public and private sector in the areas of legal, company registration, asset management and other corporate services in the jurisdiction. “This is something that the entire Territory will be proud of achieving," he observed.

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