articles | 01 April 2024

Cyprus shipping registry grows — minister outlines actions to boost maritime sector

The fleet of vessels registered under the Cypriot flag has seen a significant increase of approximately 5.5 per cent, equivalent to about 1.1 million tonnes, over the past six months, according to the Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanolis.

The minister’s comments were delivered during an event at the DP World passenger terminal in the Port of Limassol, that aimed to outline the achievements and initiatives of the ministry during the first year of Nikos Christodoulides’ administration. Hadjimanolis noted that in addition to the enduring support of shipowners who traditionally choose and trust the Cypriot flag, there has been increased interest from new shipowners and shipping companies who have registered their vessels under the Cypriot registry. She added that strengthening the Cypriot registry was initially set as one of the top priorities, and through the implementation of a specific action plan, a substantial increase in the capacity of the Cypriot fleet was achieved after about two years of continuous decline. “The Cypriot flag is gaining increased momentum,” she said. Moreover, she mentioned that over the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase of approximately 14 per cent in the companies included in the European Union’s Approved Tonnage Tax System, reaching 420.

Furthermore, she stated that the maritime passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece operated with great success for the second consecutive year, with more than 7,400 passengers, over 2,400 vehicles, and more than 250 pets. “These numbers demonstrate that the maritime passenger connection between Cyprus and Greece is not only essential but also sustainable,” she stated. She noted that the maritime passenger connection is expected to commence for the third consecutive year on May 29. 

The Deputy Minister of Shipping also referred to the importance of the shipping sector for the economy and development of Cyprus, as well as the significant role Cyprus plays internationally as a maritime state. “Our country is a globally renowned maritime cluster, encompassing a wide range of maritime-related activities,” she stated. “The enhancement of our services, high-quality customer service, ship safety, staff expertise, efficiency, and flexibility, as well as significant bilateral agreements with other countries, have established Cypriot shipping as a vital pillar of development and the Cypriot flag as one of the most reliable and competitive in global shipping,” she added.

The minister also referenced the 60-year anniversary since the establishment of the Cypriot registry in 2023, describing it as “a glorious journey that makes the pioneers, the continuers, and all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus proud”. “It is a journey of continuous efforts, planning, and decisions, with the experience and expertise as our legacy, with the sole aim of strengthening the Republic of Cyprus through a robust shipping industry,” she said. “Undoubtedly, we are proud of the journey of the past 60 years. Our goal is to achieve even higher objectives and further enhance the competitiveness of Cypriot shipping, the Cypriot registry, and Cyprus’ maritime cluster,” she added. Hadjimanolis also said that “our efforts will focus on collaboration with the shipowning and shipping community of Cyprus and abroad, as well as on implementing even more initiatives”.

Promotion of the Cypriot Shipping Registry

The Deputy Minister stated that they have designed and are implementing a specific action plan to promote the Cypriot registry in Cyprus and abroad, which includes targeted initiatives aimed at attracting new quality vessels to the Cypriot registry. “We have participated in maritime conferences, exhibitions, and events, and held constructive meetings in Piraeus, Athens, London, Hamburg, Genoa, Tokyo, Singapore, Miami, and Dubai,” she noted.

Navigation Safety and Marine Environmental Protection

Hadjimanolis mentioned that the government remains steadfastly committed to improving safety levels in navigation and protecting the marine environment, setting these goals as one of the main priorities of the  Deputy Ministry of Shipping. “The impressive rise of the Cypriot flag from 13th to 8th place on the White List of the Paris MoU confirms the high quality and safety standards of ships flying the Cypriot flag and reflects our efforts to improve inspection and supervision practices, enhancing the prestige and reliability of the Cypriot registry,” she pointed out. She also stated that a legislative framework has been adopted to further enhance safety levels in navigation and the protection of the marine environment.

Green Incentives for Climate Impact Reduction

Furthermore, the Deputy Minister said that the Council of Ministers has approved a revised set of green incentives to reward ships demonstrating effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. “Since January 2024, the annual tonnage tax for vessels registered in the Cypriot registry has been reduced by up to 30 per cent for each ship implementing measures to reduce climate impacts, ensuring that shipowners are rewarded for sustainable shipping efforts,” she explained.

Establishment of Advisory Committees

The Deputy Minister of Shipping also mentioned that they have established the Advisory Committee for Enhancing the Competitiveness and Quality of the Cypriot Flag, as well as the Advisory Committee for Enhancing the Competitiveness of the Cypriot Shipping Cluster. She explained that this aims to improve and bolster the competitiveness of the Cypriot flag and the Cypriot shipping industry. She also noted that at the initiative and proposal of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, the Council of Ministers has approved the establishment of a committee to address maritime pollution on the shores of Cyprus, which will make decisions on measures to address and prevent maritime pollution, for better coordination and implementation of appropriate solutions.

New facilities for the ministry

Following the recent decision of the Council of Ministers to allocate state land for the construction of the new building facilities of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, Hadjimanolis said that all necessary actions have been taken to implement this very important project.

Additionally, the Deputy Minister of Shipping announced the launch of the One-Stop Shipping Centre in November. This initiative fulfils a longstanding request from the shipping industry, with the aim of expanding the range of services available for matters pertaining to the maritime industry. The centre will provide quality services for requests from all shipping companies and companies with activities related to shipping, operating in Cyprus, on matters within the jurisdiction of the Civil Registry and Migration Department.

Digital transformation

Hadjimanolis also said that within the framework of the digital transformation and green transition, the Deputy Ministry of Shipping has taken a series of actions for the complete digitisation of its services. “Through the new system, the shipping community and citizens will be able to be served directly, easily, and without the need to submit paper documents,” she said. “The project is expected to be completed by 2024, with the Deputy Ministry of Shipping being the first ministry in Cyprus to digitise the entirety of its services,” she added.

National Maritime Spatial Plan

She also mentioned that they have prepared a national strategy for Integrated Maritime Policy and a unified action plan for its implementation, as well as a National Maritime Spatial Plan which was approved by the Ministerial Council in December.

European and International Maritime Forums

The Deputy Minister also noted the importance of “our re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation for the term 2024-2025, despite the challenges we had to face due to the particular current international geopolitical conditions”. In this regard, she highlighted the significantly strengthened participation of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping in European and international maritime conferences. This increased involvement serves as evidence of the recognition of its productive and constructive contributions towards addressing the challenges encountered by the global shipping industry.

Competitiveness of the European shipping industry

Hadjimanolis also underscored the significant role that Cyprus plays in ensuring and enhancing the competitiveness of European shipping.

Gender equality

The Deputy Minister of Shipping also said that the commitment of the ministry to promote gender equality in the shipping industry is being implemented through various actions. This includes adopting campaigns for gender equality, enhancing information to encourage more women to join the industry, creating a supportive environment, and providing training and guidance opportunities. “One of these actions is the establishment and establishment of the Gender Equality Award in Cypriot shipping,” she said. “The decision of the International Maritime Organisation to choose the candidate from Cyprus for the first Gender Equality Award of the International Maritime Organisation is a significant recognition of our efforts,” she added.

Maritime education

Hadjimanolis also mentioned that the Deputy Ministry of Shipping is trying to bring the new generation closer to the shipping sector “so that they can include it in their career choices”. “We have promoted maritime professions in secondary and higher education schools with the aim of informing about the multifaceted job opportunities in the maritime sector,” she said. “Recognising the importance of informing children from primary school, we have designed new actions in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education where children, from the upper grades of primary school to the first grades of high school, will get to know shipping up close, its importance, and the opportunities it offers them,” she added. She also noted that “actions have also been planned for the first time for parents so that they can be informed about the industry and its prospects”.

Regarding higher education, she continued, they have signed memoranda of cooperation with private universities in Cyprus. “In 2023, the upward trend in the number of students studying at the three recognized maritime academies in Cyprus and at the Merchant Marine Academies of Greece continued,” she said.

Maritime Cyprus Conference 2023

She also mentioned that the upgrade and targeted evolution of the “Maritime Cyprus 2023” conference, which was held last October, resulted in it exceeding any previous attendant records. “In addition to the participation of over 1000 maritime stakeholders from 35 countries, the conference was well-attended, establishing it as one of the best and most qualitative maritime conferences worldwide,” she said.

Commonwealth Ministerial Conference on Oceans

Hadjimanolis announced that at the initiative of the Ministry of Shipping, the Republic of Cyprus will host the first Commonwealth Ministerial Conference on Oceans on April 18 and 19, 2024. The theme of the Conference, she said, is “Our Resilient Common Ocean: From Cyprus to Samoa,” and it will be attended by more than 30 Commonwealth countries.

The topic of discussion, the Deputy Minister continued, will be the principles and priorities of the “Commonwealth Ocean Declaration,” where the guiding principles towards its adoption will be agreed upon. “We are also pleased to announce that, following our proposal, the European Union has agreed to organise and hold the 15th EU-China Implementation Meeting in Cyprus, within the framework of the EU-China Maritime Transport Agreement, with the participation of delegations from China and the European Commission,” she stated. “Of course, our efforts to further promote and highlight the Cypriot flag and Cyprus as an international maritime state abroad are ongoing and further strengthened,” she added.

Sea Festival

Finally, the Deputy Minister of Shipping mentioned that the Sea Festival, which was organised for the third consecutive year, achieved great success with increased participation. The festival will take place again this year on October 19. “Its goal is to cultivate maritime culture and highlight the importance and prospects of the shipping sector and the Blue Economy,” she stated. “For the first time, the Naval Command participated in the Festival by conducting a passage of vessels of the Navy,” Hadjimanolis concluded.


Source: Cyprus Mail

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