The Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) has embarked upon a maritime safety educational campaign to sensitise the Virgin Islands community on its responsibilities and functions within the Territory.
Acting Director Captain Raman Bala said the department believes it is prudent for the public, especially the sea-faring community, to have a better understanding of its roles and responsibilities and maritime safety.
Captain Bala, while outlining the responsibilities of VISR said that the Government of the Virgin Islands enacts international maritime laws such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Marine Pollution Act (MARPOL) into local laws. He said the department then ensures that all BVI maritime activities, particularly in relation to vessel registration and inspections comply with these laws.
Captain Bala added the VISR also performs safety inspections for commercial vessels, certification for Boat Masters licenses, ship registrations and ship inspections following any boating accidents. He explained that the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry also markets the BVI at international boat shows as a Category One Red Ensign ship registration jurisdiction.
Ship registration is the assignment of a nationality to a ship, and serves as a passport for the vessel; as a Category One jurisdiction the Territory can register vessels of any size. Registration fees are considered as one of the major revenue earners for the department.
In addition, boat captains who may require any legal assistance while sailing international waters will be assisted, as registered vessels have the protection of the United Kingdom laws and arbitration as members of the Red Ensign group.
As part of its maritime education campaign the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry will be conducting a series of community meetings throughout the Territory, and will provide regular updates to the public on its activities through educational pamphlets, radio and television programmes. For more information on the department, visit the Government website at bvi.gov.vg or telephone the department at 284-468-2908.