In its first-ever annual report, the Malta Maritime Forum laid out its activities of the past year with a strong emphasis on policies it pursued in that time. It believes that the creation of a specialised maritime court should be a top priority for the current legislature.
“Having maritime litigation heard and decided swiftly by a specialised court renders the jurisdiction of this country more attractive with substantial service multiplier effects,” wrote outgoing chairperson of the MMF, Joseph Zammit McKeon.
“This country cannot however rely solely on past results and experience to build its future as far as the maritime sector is concerned. That would be a way forward destined to fail over time taking into account an ever increasingly tough competitive international market conditions,” added Judge Zammit McKeon.
The organisation also remarked on the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a zone that has the potential to expand to 71,446 square kilometres.
It said it is not against exploiting the opportunities in the EEZ in principle, as long as the necessary safeguards are in place and the projects therein are not detrimental to Maltese operators operating on Hurd Bank. Furthermore, it called for any projects in the area not to hinder existing navigational lines and to take into account eventual legal implications.
Writing on the establishment of a National Maritime Authority, incoming chairperson Godwin Xerri and CEO Kevin J Borg said: “re-establishment of a National Maritime Authority would uphold the country’s aspirations to be a regional and global centre of excellence for maritime affairs and would further contribute to increase the Industry’s vast economic contribution whist consolidating its systemic importance to the Maltese Islands.”
They remarked that when in Malta had established the Malta Maritime Authority in 1991, it was ahead of its time and competition.
“This provided Malta a competitive edge which has been lost since other important maritime jurisdictions such as the UK, Greece and Cyprus caught up and established their own specialised authorities which they have retained till the present day.”
“Some maritime countries like Malta, have gone as far as privatising their maritime authorities to ensure that they are in complete sync with the private sector.”
The organisation’s calls have been heard, as the Minister for Transport, infrastructure and Capital Projects Aaron Farrugia recently announced that the Government will be creating a consolidated Maritime Directorate.
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