On 20th February 2023, the government published the Regulation Relating to the Loading and Carriage of Goods for Seagoing Vessels (Regulation No: 2023/R-71) in the Government Gazette. The regulation establishes minimum requirements for loading, unloading, storage, carriage and safety of cargo on ships. The regulation comes into force on 20th May 2023, and applies to ships registered and licensed under the Registration of Local Vessels Regulation (Regulation No: 2016/R-6).
The primary objective of the regulation is to establish minimum requirements for loading, unloading, storage, carriage and safety of cargo on ships. It aims to ensure that shipowners and ship captains take responsibility for cargo safety, and establishes their responsibilities. Shipowners have to ensure that the vessel can carry cargo to the destination safely, and take responsibility for any damage to cargo resulting from their negligence. Captains must be licensed accordingly and ensure that the crew follow the Regulation Relating to the Loading and Carriage of Goods for Seagoing Vessels rules in loading and unloading cargo onboard ship. They must also act in the interest of the safety of crew, passengers (if any), and cargo.
The Cargo Ships Regulation is applicable to ships registered and licensed under the Registration of Local Vessels Regulation (Regulation No: 2016/R-6). However, it does not apply to national security vessels, foreign security vessels that come to Maldives, and vessels with diplomatic clearance (under s.5 of the Marine Vessels Act (Act No: 69/78)). If the type of cargo requires an additional license, it must be obtained as well. Certain types of cargo are exempt from the Cargo Ships Regulation, including dangerous goods, food, oils and chemicals, living animals and plants, and waste.
Loading and storage:
Cargo must be loaded and stored on ships according to their specifications. Sacks, unless they contain beach sand, must be stored in a way that ensures they are protected from sun, rain and sea. Boxes must be stored in a way that ensures they would not be damaged and are also protected from sun, rain and sea. Containers must be tightly wound and affixed. Bundles, along with machineries, vehicles, and project goods, must be tightly wound and properly affixed to the deck and must be protected from sun, rain and sea. If none of the above applies, cargo must be stored in a way that wouldn’t allow it to fall off the ship. If the cargo consists of different varieties, each variety must be separately identifiable and segregated if they will damage each other. Fragile or temperature-sensitive goods must be appropriately packaged and labeled as such. Ships must not exceed their assigned tonnage of cargoes.
If the cargo is damaged in any way during its loading or carriage because of the actions of the ship’s captain or crew, the shipowner or whoever is responsible for the ship will be liable for compensation. However, if damage cannot be attributed to either captain or crew, the shipowner or whoever is responsible for the ship is not liable.
Prohibited activities and fines:
The regulation prohibits certain activities and imposes fines for disobedience. Usage of fire around cargo incurs a fine of MVR 2,000. Carrying more weight than the ship’s assigned tonnage incurs a fine of MVR 2,000. Carrying prohibited goods incurs a fine of MVR 2,000. Disobeying the regulation incurs a fine of MVR 1,000 – 2,000 (depending on the gravity of the action). Repeating an action incurs an additional fine of MVR 1,000 (at the discretion of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation).