Portuguese Flag Reports Strongest Growth Rate in Europe

By Eric Haun
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Portugal’s second shipping register, the International Shipping Register of Madeira (MAR), is currently the strongest-growing flag in Europe.

In the last six months, MAR’s fleet has increased by more than 60 new vessels representing net growth of 130% in terms of tonnage. Among the new entrants to the register are vessels owned by more than 20 of Germany’s leading companies.

The growth has been achieved since Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira (SDM), the official body responsible for promoting MAR, established a strategic partnership with European Mar Lda (Euromar) in Funchal and Hamburg, run by former Liberian Registry executives Dr. Albrecht Gundermann and Captain JörgMolzahn.

“MAR’s exceptional growth rate compares most favorably with other European registries and reflects the work and attention to detail the register has undertaken in cooperation with Euromar,” said Roy Garibaldi, Executive Senior Manager at SDM. “Thanks to the political support that is provided to make the register more competitive and to the robust addition of young, high quality vessels flying the Portuguese flag, MAR’s future is extremely positive and the register is firmly on course to move from strength to strength.”

The growth achieved over the last six months is also remarkable given that the register was listed temporarily on the Paris MOU Grey List due to problems two years ago. “This was the unfortunate consequence of one insolvent owner suffering six detentions and the company in question no longer operates vessels under the Portuguese flag,” Garibaldi said.

The Paris MOU does not display data on the existing quality of ships flying the Portuguese flag and without the six incidents MAR would not have been statistically downgraded.

MAR responded urgently to the temporary listing by immediately instituting policies thoroughly evaluating tonnage before registration and performing highly detailed pre-inspections on vessels older than 15 years seeking to join the register.

“Registers with a small fleet are more in danger of suffering a statistical downgrade, as shown by the way that a single company affected us,” Garibaldi said. “The most effective remedy to this is the strong growth which MAR has achieved recently and it is only a matter of a short period of time before MAR is restored to the Paris MOU White List, where it has been for many years.”

The temporary listing has had no effect on Portuguese flag ships because international Port State Control (PSC) regimes have rules and practices in such circumstances which do not differentiate between White and Grey-listed flags.

“And owners operating under other European Union flags who have been targeted by US Coast Guard in previous years and ships flying other EU flags which have been on the Tokyo MOU Grey List have also confirmed that there are no practical disadvantages from such temporary statistical evaluation,” said Garibaldi. “Clearly, it was daunting and most challenging to be listed temporarily by the Paris MOU because of one single owner. But MAR faced the consequences and took immediate and the necessary actions and clearly the measures will be paying off.”

Further strong growth is expected over the course of the next few years, coming mostly from German owners but also from Greece, France and Norway. The registry will soon start offering broad services online to match the growing demand.

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