Ship registration is the process by which nationality is conferred on a ship. The nationality of the ship is the same as the state, which has authority and responsibility over the ship. The ship’s flag symbolizes its nationality and the term “flag state” denotes the state whose nationality the ship has. Registration is effected by entering the ship unto the list of ships on the national ship register after which a Certificate of Registry is issued. A Certificate of Registry is considered to be prima facie evidence of a ship’s nationality. In order that unrestricted access to the high seas does not lead to chaos and abuse, international law lays down a number of rules providing a framework for the exercise of that entitlement of unrestricted access to the high seas. One rule is that all ships using the high seas must possess a nationality and the second rule is that jurisdiction or the exercise of control over a ship on the high seas rest solely with the State, which the ship belongs. A ship possessing no nationality is considered a “stateless ship” and enjoys no protection in international and national law. The stateless ship will be denied entry into most states or ports and will be unable to engage in any lawful trade or excursions. Section 49 of the Antigua and Barbuda Merchant Shipping Act 1985 provides that clearance shall not be granted to any ship until the master of the ship has 64 |
BusinessFocus • December/January 11/12
declared to a customs officer the name of the country to which he claims that she belongs and produces in support thereof the relevant certificate of registry. As a consequence, if the ship attempts to proceed to sea without such clearance, she may be detained until the declaration is made. The granting of nationality to a ship gives rise to a number of international obligations. Article 94 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 111), 1982 and Art 5 of the United Nations Convention on Conditions for Registration of Ships, 1986 mention that any state, including a land-locked country may grant the right to fly its flag to ships but must maintain a public register of these ships. The register should contain at least the items of information spelled out in the Convention. The flag state must also have a national administration which is competent and adequate to ensure that its ships comply with national laws and with all international rules and regulations, such as standards of safety on board and protection of the marine environment. In most cases, the procedures for granting nationality to ships and its related matters are governed by the Merchant Shipping Act or Maritime Code of that State. From the standpoint of international law, each State may fix the conditions which govern the granting of
Published on Oct 28, 2013
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