September 8, 2004

Call for NIS overhaul

Though the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS) has been widely perceived outside Norway as a model "second register," Norwegian owners have found much to criticize. Today, the Norwegian Government has received the report of a working group appointed to suggest measures to make NIS "an attractive, competitive and high quality international register."

The working group's main recommendations urge:

  • the removal of the trading area restrictions set out in the NIS register. "It is a paradox that ships registered with the NIS register are the only ships that are banned from carrying cargo between Norwegian ports, from operating on the Norwegian continental shelf and from participating in passenger traffic to foreign destinations;"
  • the relaxation of the requirement that shipping company headquarters to be based in Norway
  • the simplification of approval procedures of certificates of foreign crew on NIS ships
  • the simplification of registration in maritime registers
  • the authorities to realize that NIS should be marketed as an international register.

"A large fleet registered under a national flag is essential to Norway's ability to influence international regulations", says Jorgen Vatne, Director of the Norwegian Shipowners Association. "We are therefore pleased to note that the working group appreciates the need to eliminate the special Norwegian regulations and harmonize the register with international laws and regulations."

"If NIS is to succeed in competition with other registers, then the shipping industry's conditions should be simplified, balanced and harmonized with what other countries are offering," concludes Vatne.

In addition, the report counsels the Norwegian Maritime Directorate to place greater emphasis on its responsibilities as a service provider. User friendliness and accessibility are vital competitive parameters in the effort to attract high quality shipping.

Representatives from Det Norske Veritas, the ship registers, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, seamen's organizations and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association made up the working group. Ms Berit Stokke of the law firm Thommessen Krefting Greve Lund headed the group.

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