Maritime Enforcement Lacking, Survey Says

A first of its kind ranking of the world’s ship registries has placed Cambodia last out of 37 countries surveyed, citing its failure to im­pose or enforce laws on pollution, ship safety and training on the ap­proximately 400 vessels that fly the Cambodian flag.

The finding comes as little surprise to officials who work with the Cambodian Shipping Corpor­ation, the company that sells the flag to ship owners and maintains the registry in exchange for 85 percent of revenues.

“Of course we know we lack mar­i­time law. We use some subdecrees from 1951 signed by the King for registration of the ships, but it is too old,” said Nun Sakhan, deputy director of the merchant marine department of the Ministry of Public Works and Transpor­ta­tion.

Nik Winchester, a researcher at the Seafarers International Re­search Center at Cardiff University in Wales, Great Britain, said his survey shows Cambodia stands to profit if it offers a flag to ships that get turned away from more established registries.

“The very success of these flags depends on the continued and anticipated maintenance of a flag state completely uninterested in regulatory enforcement,” he wrote in an industry newsletter.

The Cambodian registry was opened in 1994 by Funcinpec parliamentarian Khek Van Dy.

The cost of a flag, which can range from around $300 to more than $3,000 annually, depends on the size and type of vessel.

The government has worked harder this year to enforce maritime law, especially after an em­barrassing string of public relations disasters that saw Cam­bodian-flagged ships sink, lose crew and cargo and get detained in ports for failing to follow maritime law, Nun Sakhan said.

The government signed six international conventions in June, and Nun Sakhan said he hopes this will place Cambodia on the so-called “white list” maintained by the International Maritime Organi­zation of law-abiding registries.


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