04 September 2008
Research has now been published into the costs and benefits of an expanded Register for ships in the Island.
Work was commissioned last autumn and since then Fisher Associates have looked at the pros and cons, considering the cost to the States of expansion, the possible value to the Island both economically and politically as well as advising on the best markets to consider.
At the moment pleasure craft have to be under 400 registered tons to qualify and if operated commercially they have to be under 150 tons. To change those rules and enable vessels of a different type or size to register here requires agreement with the UK, additional law drafting and an expansion of the compliance and marketing staff employed locally. This will take time and money, so it has been most important to establish whether the change is likely to be genuinely worthwhile.
The Report recommends a staged expansion into the large yacht category up to 3,000 tons and locally based commercial vessels of any tonnage. In this way risks are limited and less than might be with a fully open register.
There is no doubt that as an exercise in raising Jersey’s international profile and building on its solid financial and regulatory reputation, this could be very good and indirectly attract business. The sight of many more Jersey ships around the world could attract greater business awareness as well as tourism. As a strategy for diversifying the economy into such areas as marine insurance, vessel and crew management, surveying, shipping law and brokerage it represents an exciting opportunity. In fact the Report suggests that there could be a gross value added for the Island of £8.8m each year by 2020 and an additional 160 people employed. However, proving that these related industries would indeed grow locally has so far been elusive and the full economic benefit would only be realised if more and larger ships on the register actually translated into more local business. Meanwhile, the direct net cost to the States, after deduction of an increased income, would total some £587,000 spread over the next ten years or so.
Evidence from the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and the Cayman Islands is very positive. Having an unrestricted shipping register is clearly important to them. Likewise some businesses have expressed confidence that they would indeed grow. However, these comments do not add up to proof of a link between growth in the registry and growth in related business.
The Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Alan Maclean, said, “I am delighted by the Report which is an excellent piece of work highlighting some interesting opportunities. I feel instinctively an open Register would be good for the Island and not only for economic reasons. However, I am cautious about the figures. I am asking for more work to be done and in particular would welcome feedback from the public and local businesses.”
To download a copy of the Fisher Associates report please click on the following link- Jersey Register of British Ships: Business Case for Expansion