The core functions of the GMA are in respect of maritime safety, ship security, environmental protection, and the facilitation of international trade. For local applications, some of the above functions are carried out in conjunction with the Gibraltar Port Authority.
How has your experience prepared you for your role?
The role of Maritime Administrator was traditionally taken up a former marine surveyor in previous years, and had a predominately technical role. Over the last ten years, it has evolved into a more managerial position, with a greater demand on interpretation of international law and marketing.
I have been involved with maritime and environmental matters for more than eighteen years, including a secondment at the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency and academic qualifications from the IMO’s World Maritime University in Sweden. Over the years, I have accrued a knowledge and experience in public international law matters as well as the eccentricities of management in a public sector environment.
In your view, what are the main areas for growth over the coming years?
The market is flat overall due to an oversupply of vessels. Shipping is part of the logistics cluster and I can see advancements in technology (leading to newer, cleaner ships) and increases in demand for high-value technological goods. This means that there will be growth in transhipment of containers via shipping and other forms of transport. Once the global oil prices pick up, I also expect the demand for offshore supply vessels and accommodation units to do so in parallel in the next two or three years.
What is the British Red Ensign Group and how important is this for Gibraltar?
The Red Ensign Group (REG) is an association of thirteen British registries, all under the UK flag. Gibraltar is, in effect, a secondary registry of the UK. Nevertheless, all the registries have unique features and incentives to register. For instance, we specialise in the European market and more specifically with the short sea shipping trade, as well as tankers. Other REG partners have super yachts or passenger vessels forming the bulk of their portfolios.
The UK (British) flag is the eighth-largest in the world by tonnage. Gibraltar is a medium-sized registry within the group, with around 2.8 million GT and more than 1,200 ships and yachts. Our overall fleet has been growing by 2-3% every year.
By being a member of this association, the Gibraltar Ship Registry acts as an international gateway for maritime-related businesses both within the territory and external within the global market. Ship finance, crew management, legal services, yachting, insurance; these all bring benefits to the local economy and beyond.
Please talk to us about the concept of "Port State Control", and how this applies under the GMA:
Port State Control is an international regime, established by UNCLOS, which allows Party States to the Convention (in our case, Gibraltar on behalf of the UK) to verify the international safety, security and social standards of foreign-flagged ships engaging within our jurisdiction. The GMA acts as the UK representative in this respect and we inspect vessels on a daily basis in what is one of the world’s busiest anchorage ports.
What are the main challenges of the GMA?
Our vision is to have Gibraltar as a “centre of maritime excellence”. In order to do this, we are putting in place facilities and regulatory frameworks that allow the best fleet technical performance but be business friendly and accessible at the same time.
Finding the balance between upholding higher-than-required standards with continuing fleet growth is our main challenge. We do not want to be the most prestigious small registry in the world. Listening to our current and future clients is the key; we have a personal engagement with ship owners and other stakeholders.
How do you see “Brexit” affecting Gibraltar?
We do not know what the impact will be in the future. I can say that it is “business as usual” for the time being. Should the final “Brexit” package result in the Gibraltar Ship Registry losing its EU status, then we will have to adjust our package accordingly.
I can confirm that we are looking to diversify our portfolio anyway and exploring the possibility of a presence in other markets such as the Far East and North America.
What role does the GMA play in protecting the interests of Seafarers?
The most important component of a ship is the crew. The GMA works very closely with local and international stakeholders. For instance, we are a partner with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board in Gibraltar and are very active in assisting all seafarers within Gibraltar’s jurisdiction. Further afield, we have an excellent relationship with international seafarers’ trade unions and are a committed party to the Maritime Labour Convention; we have assisted with the repatriation and payment of crew on our ships. On the domestic side, we are proactive in managing our local cadet training programmes and other marine qualifications.
What is your memorable shipping experience and favourite ship?
I come from an administrative / legislative background, nevertheless, I have had a number of memorable experiences. Probably the highlight of which is attending IMO sessions as part of the UK delegation. It was a great honour to represent Gibraltar at such a level, meeting contemporaries from around the world, who share the same passion for the shipping industry and have the influence to change international policy in this regard.
I have seen and registered many ships over the last eighteen years. I will never forget the sight of the “Red Seagull”, a VLCC that was registered in Gibraltar many years back. With a deadweight of more than 400,000, she was certainly noticeable.
For more information about the GMA, please click here.
Editor, Marine Strategy
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