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Cyprus Shipowners Blame Government For Lacklustre Register

by Lorys Charalambous, for, Cyprus

23 June 2006

Speaker after speaker at a Cyprus maritime conference this week called for the setting up of a Cyprus Chamber of Shipping and blamed poor liaison between the industry and the government for recent falls in the Cyprus fleet, which has dropped from 5th to 9th place, with 1,800 ships.

It is easy to blame the poor performance of the Register on difficulties with Turkey, which will still not allow Cyprus-flagged ships to use its ports, but many speakers said that this was not the primary factor.

Charalambos Mylonas, Chairman of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, praised the Department of Shipping, but said that in competing countries such as Malta and the Bahamas, close co-operation between the private sector and government through a Chamber of Shipping has been effective at improving performance.

Mr Mylonas also complained that shipping-related legislation often failed to pass through parliament, for reasons that were obscure; and he criticized the executive government for delays.

Eleftherios Montarios, president of the maritime committee of the Cyprus Bar Association, echoed other speakers in calling for the establishment of a Chamber of Shipping, and said that a White Paper produced in the 1990s which laid out a legislative programme for the maritime sector should not have been neglected.

Recently, the Executive Committee of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on port state control (the Paris MOU) decided to admit Cyprus to its White List, recognizing the significant improvement Cyprus has achieved concerning security standards of the Cyprus Registry and the drastic reduction of detentions of Cyprus ships.

The Committee also decided that Cyprus will be from now on a regular member of the Paris MOU. ''This fact consists an independent evidence and supports even more the picture of Cyprus as a serious and reliable navigational country,'' said an announcement.

The MOU, as it is known, compiles three lists, White, Black and Grey. Over the last few years Cyprus has moved rapidly up through the ranks of the Grey List. The 31 White List members, who include the UK, Sweden, the US and Germany, record the lowest rates of detention of inspected ships, and incur fewer inspections in MOU ports.

Speakers at the conference lamented that this progress on the operational level had not been reflected in terms of the performance of the Register.

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