The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ("NIMASA") issued a Marine Notice MN 09/20/SN01 (the "Notice")1 which was addressed to all Ship Owners, Shipping Companies Shipping Agents, Ship Operators, Ship Managers, Fishing Trawler Owners or Operators, Ship Charterers, Maritime Stakeholders and the Public.
The Notice was issued in line with NIMASA's statutory function of vessel registration2 in Nigeria as well as the administration of the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 (the ''Act''). By the Notice, vessels seeking to operate or currently operating within Nigeria's territorial waters (for domestic coastal and inland waters trade) are mandated to register in the Special Register for Cabotage Vessels and Ship Owning Companies carrying out Cabotage trade.
The Notice states:
CERTIFICATE OF CABOTAGE REGISTRATION/LICENSE
All vessels intending to undertake cabotage trade in Nigeria are required to be registered by the Registrar of Ships. The evidence of such registration is the issuance of a Certificate of Cabotage Registration by NIMASA. In compliance with the Notice, the Certificate of Cabotage Registration shall be on board each vessel at all times.
CABOTAGE OPERATIONAL CERTIFICATE
The Cabotage Operational Certificate issued by NIMASA to the relevant parties shall be renewed yearly.
NOTICE TO SHIPOWNERS, SHIP OPERATORS, SHIP MANAGERS, SHIP CHARTERERS, FISHING VESSEL OWNERS
The above-mentioned players have been given three (3) months from the publication of the Notice to ensure that they comply with the Notice, strictly.
NIMASA intends to inform International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other regulatory bodies in the maritime sector to ensure compliance with this Notice. This means that vessels engaged in Cabotage trade will be mandated to present a valid Cabotage Certificate prior to their engagement.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) 1982 mandates that every state grants the right to fly its flag a document referred to as the ''Certificate of Registry''. In Nigeria, the office responsible for the issuance of this certificate and the registration of ships is the Nigerian Ship Registration Office (NSRO) empowered by the Merchant Shipping Act, NIMASA Act 2007 and Coastal and Inland Shipping Act.
Furthermore, as the regulatory agency responsible for the maritime sector in Nigeria, NIMASA regularly issues Notices to ensure compliance with the Act and regulations in the maritime industry. As such, it's important to ensure compliance with these regulations, failure to do so attracts fines3 of various degrees from NIMASA.
1 https://nimasa.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FINAL-MARINE-NOTICE.pdf accessed 21 September 2020
2 Section 22 (a) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007
3 Section 35 (1) (c) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007
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