Proposals to increase Maritime and Coastguard Agency fees for ship registrations, ship surveys and merchant navy costs are being put out for consultation.
Consultations are underway over plans to increase Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) fees for ship registrations, ship surveys and the training of merchant seamen.
Under the new proposals, fees covering marine surveys; registration, transfer and mortgage of fishing vessels, and seaman training and certification (STC) examinations would go up.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency says its charges have not gone up since September 2006, although its costs for providing these services have been rising over the last ten years.
This additional cost, which for 2010-11 has been put at £3.7 million, has, so far, been absorbed by the government agency.
The MCA adds that while costs have been “increasing and increased in 2015-16”, there have been significant efficiency improvements.
These include staff reductions of 12.3% between 2006-07 and 2012-13.
“This has helped to deliver services more efficiently and bear down on costs,” states the MCA’s consultation document.
Government guidance says the MCA should not profit at the expense of consumers, but should also not sustain a loss that taxpayers have to subsidise.
To address this, the MCA has carried out an extensive study to look at the actual costs of carrying out surveys and exams to provide the proposed new fees.
Two options are being put forward for consultation.
The first would be to keep things as they are.
The second option is to increase fees for marine surveys; registration, transfer and mortgage of fishing vessels (RSS); and seaman training and certification (STC) examinations in line with the full costs of delivering these services.
The MCA admits that smaller operators are “likely to be the most affected by an immediate uplift as they are less able to absorb cost increases.”
It adds that larger operators may choose “to ‘flag out’ of the UK and register under another flag State”, although there is evidence that considers these impacts to be minimal for larger operators.
“In most cases, the cost of fees paid for the MCA’s ship surveys forms only a small part of the cost of owning or operating vessels,” states the MCA’s consultation document.
“Therefore, the impact of increasing survey fees on a typical cross section of vessel operating costs, between fees paid to the MCA and typical operating costs for businesses of various sizes operating vessels is not considered highly prohibitive to vessel operators.”
The MCA adds its own analysis estimates that fees for large internationally trading container vessels will increase from 0.2% to 0.3% of total operating costs.
Mid sized continental cargo ships would see increases from around 0.3% to 0.5%, while domestic passenger vessels and fishing boats would face increases of 0.9% and 0.3%.
Full details of the consultation can be found here.
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