Proposed law on small vessels put on hold

National, Normal

THE bill to charge fees on small craft operators in maritime provinces has been put on hold.
Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye introduced the Small Craft Bill but parliament voted on a motion by Manus Governor Michael Sapau to defer it until it was scrutinised and its implications properly assessed.
Sapau said 70% of his people depended on small vessels for their livelihood, and they would be directly affected and he wanted a close look at the proposed bill.
Polye told parliament that, currently, there were no laws governing the registration, seaworthiness, safety and operation of small crafts operating in Papua New Guinea.
“This bill sets out to address this vacuum that is existing prior to and since independence concerning sea vessels under 10m in length.
He said sea vessels measuring more than 10m in length were regulated under the Merchant Shipping Act, managed by the National Maritime Safety Authority.
“As a direct consequence of the absence of legislation and control, the use and users of small crafts, the social costs of loss of life and property at sea are unacceptably high, and will continue to be high unless some statutory control is established.”
He said the bill was intended to fill the vacuum to provide for improved safety and operation of small crafts and their users.
The bill will require registration of small crafts and licensing to cover commercial passenger craft, commercial cargo craft, commercial fishing craft and commercial mix-use craft.
Fees for registration and licensing, and any fines or penalties, would be paid to the maritime provinces to cover the cost of administrating the bill.
Sapau said he agreed with the spirit of the bill but there were costs associated with the fees that needed to be widely discussed.