For the first time in its maritime history, the Maltese Shipping Register was confirmed as the largest merchant flag in Europe and seventh worldwide by Clarkson Research Services, one of the leading providers of statistical services in the maritime sector. The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications, Dr Austin Gatt, made this announcement during a media conference held today at Transport Malta offices.
In fact, as at end of the year, the Maltese Register of Shipping registered an increase of over 6 million gross tonnage representing a growth rate of 16.1% over the previous year. The registered gross tonnage under the Merchant Shipping Act is 45.6 million. Malta’s register was very diverse and listed all types of vessels including merchant and fishing vessels as well as cruise liners and super yachts. During 2011, the Maltese register of shipping generated over €12 million in revenue to Transport Malta alone.
Minister Gatt said “we are very proud of the strong performance of the Maltese Shipping register. The latest published statistics represent record figures for the Malta Flag and a significant achievement for the Malta Flag Administration over the past decade. This increase is mainly attributed to the continued effort of Transport Malta and the Maltese shipping community, including local intermediaries, to attract reputable companies to the Maltese Register. We must continue working together to consolidate this position in the years to come.” The Minister said that competition is not about financial conditions but the level of service. Not every applicant vessel made it to Malta’s register and there was a rigorous process which had to be followed.
Positive results were also registered in the registration of superyachts. Despite the current financial situation in the world, the trend registered during the last three years was further consolidated last year. The Malta flag registered an increase of 18.6% over the previous year in the registration of superyachts which are over 24 m in length. As of the end of December 2011 the superyacht fleet flying the recognizable Maltese cross worldwide was almost 300.
Minister Gatt also announced that Malta was recently confirmed by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) on the list of “low risk ships” under the New Inspection Regime, after the successful completion of an IMO (International Maritime Organisation) Audit last year. This new low risk status will translate into real benefits to Maltese registered ships in the international maritime sector especially when calling at ports within the Paris MOU region. It will denote significantly less targeting for port State control inspections, thus better efficiency in shipping operations.
In his concluding remarks, Minister Gatt also made reference to last week’s announcement that the Malta Aviation register registered another successful year. Dr Gatt concluded: “”these results encourage us to work harder to ensure Malta continues to benefit from the associated positioning within these international sectors, from the substantial direct foreign revenue and the indirect added value to its economy. These results also represent yet another milestone towards establishing Malta as an international centre of excellence in the Mediterranean in these sectors.”
The maritime industry generates a lot of foreign currency – hotels are booked for crew changes and auditing and accountancy services are sought. The employees are the biggest assets and people were on call 24/7, Dr Gatt said.