08 MAY 2002

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New maritime legislative council set up

An agreement signed yesterday between the Malta Maritime Authority and the Malta Maritime Legislative Association by means of which the Maritime Legislative Research & Development Council was formally established. The main objective of the new Council is to carry out research into the further development of the local maritime and regulatory framework.

The signing followed the MMLA’s Annual General Meeting which discussed amendments made in 2000 and future amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act. Attending the event were the Hon Censu Galea, Minister for Transport and Communication, appointed Members of the newly set up Council as well as Board Members of the Malta Maritime Authority.

The new Council, which will be operating under the jurisdiction of the MMLA, will act as advisor and consultant to the Authority in matters pertaining to ongoing development and implementation of modern and beneficial policies, and the maritime sector in general, and will be recommending policies, principles and comprehensive guidelines for the drafting of any legal instruments pertinent to the maritime sector and related services. The Council will also be responsible to assist in the screening of European and international legislation, treaties and conventions.

Addressing the event, Minister Censu Galea stated that "this new partnership involving the Ministry, the Malta Maritime Authority, the Attorney General’s office and the Malta Maritime Law Association is an initiative intended to bring about such legislative changes in a more structured and eventually more pro active manner. In particular, this partnership will not only have a direct involvement but will also entrust its administration to the Maritime Industry’s legal professional association. This will ensure that the Council will address the needs of the industry whose valuable contribution will start at the conceptual stages of legislative development and will continue through the final vetting of drafted legislation before being discussed and eventually enacted by Parliament or through subsidiary regulations."

Minister Galea added that "last year, the Government and the Malta Maritime Authority have committed themselves to the international maritime community and the European Union and have embarked on a progressive and aggressive action plan to implement a significant number of legislative, institutional and organizational developments. No fewer than 40 different sets of regulations pertaining to Merchant Shipping alone are already in the pipeline and to a large extent these regulations are being developed and initially drafted using our Maltese legal profession. Therefore, the timing of the setting up of this Council is opportune and I hope that it will immediately serve its role by assisting my Ministry and the Malta Maritime Authority in bringing all these legislative changes to fruition."

"In addition to this, Government is in the process of acceding to a number of international conventions and strengthening its representation at the International Maritime Organisation and the European Union with respect to Maritime transport matters" concluded the Minister.

In his address, Dr Marc Bonello, Chairman of the Malta Maritime Authority stated that "the Malta Maritime Authority is currently devising and undertaking a number of major changes in all its three areas of operation – merchant shipping, ports and yachting centers. Top of our priority list is Government’s Action Plan for the Maritime Industry, which involves changes to legislation, institutional set-up, management information systems and internal organisation and management systems. Certainly, the bulk of legislative changes relate to the shipping sector but the setting up of the Malta Maritime Legislative Research and Development Council goes beyond the 40 or so pieces of legislative changes underway. This Council will play an important role in the shaping of maritime Malta’s future."

Dr Bonello added, "The Maritime Authority and the Malta Maritime Law Association have been thoroughly discussing the setting up, functioning and financing of this Council over the past few months because we recognise that Malta’s strategy as an International Maritime Services Center is best served and enhanced by tapping all the resources available on the island in an ongoing and structured manner. The Association represents a unique resource which widely reflects the degree of maritime legal expertise available in Malta, and which, also through its affiliation with the Comite Maritime Internationale, can play a key role in ensuring that the Maltese Maritime legislative and regulatory infrastructure is updated on an ongoing basis, in the spirit of fostering international harmonisation of maritime laws in a pragmatic consolidated fashion."

"Therefore, we see the setting up of the Council as a means to foster co-operation and develop closer ties between the national maritime regulator and Malta’s legal maritime professional association. This cooperation should take place in a structured and consolidated fashion in order to ensure that the Maltese legislative and regulatory framework relating to the maritime field, the shipping industry as well as related services are actively and consistently updated, revised, amended, improved and enhanced in a pro-active and well researched manner. Thus, qualitative standards are enhanced and Malta’s pre-eminent position as an international maritime services center will be consolidated," concluded Dr Bonello.


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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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