Senior Cypriot maritime officials fended off criticism from delegates over the Cyprus fleet
's detention rate, claiming the flag is being victimized. Cyprus has conveyed its feelings of grievance on the issue to the European Commission and is in the process of substantiating its claims, officials said.
According to the Paris memorandum on safety, Cyprus, a candidate for European Union membership
, has a 20 percent detention rate, compared to seven percent for other EU member states. The island has only managed to reduce this figure by one percent in the past two years.
"When a flag is being targeted, you cannot draw inferences on the whole fleet on the basis of the results," said Serghios Serghiou
, director of the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS). He said a few years ago ships were being detained for very serious deficiencies. "But in recent cases and especially this year," he added, "they have been detained for very minor deficiencies, in many cases for insignificant deficiencies and in many other cases for no reason at all."
Cyprus has a high detention rate, but the DMS is taking steps to recruit more inspectors and reduce the age of its fleet, said George Vassiliou, Cyprus's chief negotiator for EU membership. "As time goes by, we will see a significant improvement in the rate of detention until we reach the same average with EU countries or even better," Vassiliou said.
Vassiliou had said earlier Cypriot-flagged ships were being targeted "for nothing," simply because attention was being focused on the flag.
Cyprus has the sixth largest shipping fleet in the world, with over 2,700 vessels on its registry.